NEW YORK (AP) — Ariana Grande capped off a successful year as a pop star — but a trying one as a maturing young woman — at the 13th annual Billboard Women in Music event, where she was named Woman of the Year.
The 25-year-old singer was teary-eyed at times during her acceptance speech as she reflected on her year, which included the end of her relationship with comedian-actor Pete Davidson and the death of her former boyfriend, the rapper Mac Miller. Last year, a bombing at her concert in Manchester, England killed 22 people.
“It’s been a very conflicting one,” she added. “I just want to say if you’re someone out there who has no idea what this next chapter is going to bring, you’re not alone in that.”
Grande’s successful year included another No. 1 album with “Sweetener” as well as multiple hits, from “No Tears Left to Cry” to “God Is a Woman” to “Breathin.” She sang “Thank U, Next” — her first No. 1 smash on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart — in front of the audience including Alicia Keys, Dua Lipa, music executives and honorees like Cyndi Lauper and Janelle Monae.
Patti LaBelle praised Grande for her strong vocal ability before handing her the award, and the night was full of similar moments as women uplifted one another.
Country singer Kacey Musgraves kicked off the event with a soft performance and won the Innovator Award. Monae, who came out as pansexual this year, received the Trailblazer Award and said a fan recently told her that listening to her album, “Dirty Computer,” encouraged her to come out to her family.
“I think moments like those, they remind you no matter what’s going in your life, how bad you feel, that by us walking in our truths, it can sometimes give the next person the courage to walk in theirs,” Monae said.
“I’m going to be crying this whole time. This is my first time getting an award onstage,” Kiyoko said as the audience got out of their seats to cheer her on. “I’m trying to be professional.”