The Billboard Women In Music awards aired last Friday, where some amazing women in the music industry were celebrated for their hard work this year, including Lady Gaga, who controversially accepted the Woman of the Year award, and the legendary Missy Elliott accepting the Women In Music Innovator award.
Her improvised speech was heartwarming, to-the-point and full of genuine gratitude. Speaking through her tears, she apologised for being, “such a mush head” as she thanks all the incredible women in the room, as well as her mother and “the other side of [her] brain”, perhaps better known to some as Timbaland.
2015 has seen Elliott’s immense comeback, with the release of her ridiculously good new single and video WTF (Where They From), featuring Pharrell Williams. She’s recently opened up about her anxiety and why she took such a long break from music. “The current attention span challenged culture is just waiting for her to fail, and the only way to successfully negotiate that hazard is to come out with a record so hot it can’t be denied,” Billboard interviewer Jonathan Ringen wrote.
In an interview with Vice-owned i-D, when asked whether she lost her confidence, she revealed, “So all that time, I was doing Missy and also making sure I was giving all of these other artists a different sound too. That was hard for me. At first it wasn’t but then when it started piling up on a plate, it was tough. A lot of people don’t do this. You can count on a couple of hands probably how many artists also produce and write, both for themselves and for others and are able to be successful at both things. So I needed a break.”
She detailed her thought processes throughout her years of struggle. “I felt like, ‘How do I fit in’? I’m battling. But then I never fit in! The whole time, I’ve never fit in! But it was still that battle. Do people still want to hear something creative and risky at this point? People might not be accepting of your music.”
Read her wonderful speech in full (via Billboard):
“Instead of me writing it down, I just want to go off the top of my head. First of all, I’m so humbly grateful. I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years, and I stand here for all the women who may have been told ‘you don’t fit the mold, you’re not good enough, you won’t make it.’ Look at me, I’m here, and I’m standing here for y’all because I see so many powerful women in here. Bold, fierce, sassy, and I want y’all to know that I stand here, and I was told a lot of those things, and I’m sorry that I’m…I’m such a mush head. I dreamed of days like this. I was that kid that used to write on my mother’s walls and my family would come over and ask her, ‘Is your child OK?’ I just had songs written all over the walls, and as I got in high school, my friends, I think they thought I was creative because I was able to change my F to a B, and as time went on, I realized I was different and unique and not a follower.
“I’m sorry, y’all, you know, I done cried so much, I got my bottom lashes in my eyes. I want y’all to continue to be creative and don’t be scared to take risks. I’ve had to take a lot of risks, and being a woman in this industry for me, as an artist, a writer and producer, I’ve had my ups and downs. There’s times that I have wanted to give up, but God had another plan for me, and if it wouldn’t have been for Him, I wouldn’t be standing here. I just want to say that I thank y’all. I thank Billboard, and I’m sorry, I’m just doing this the old-school way, I might just pull out a scroll on y’all real quick. But you know how you get up here and you start saying people’s names, then you get out of the event, everybody calls you like, ‘You ain’t say my name, but I was there,’ so you know…I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget anybody.
“I want to thank my mother who has been my backbone, and she has loved me not because I became a celebrity or what I would do for her. She has just loved me unconditionally, and I want to thank her. I want to thank everybody in Virginia where I’m from, two up, two down, 757. I want to thank Timbaland. That is my other side of my brain, and we were broke together and we made money together. We have cussed each other out. We have hugged each other. I love him through thick and thin. Pharrell, I love you. Another one of my VA family. Magoo, Mona Scott Young, who has held me down from top, Karen Body, Yandy over there, my whole glam squad. I got Misa Glow, Angie, Atlantic Records, I love y’all. Where y’all at? Holla! I see y’all! Dave Meyers, Hi Hat, Hype Williams, June, Billy B, Sylvia Rhone, I love you. I don’t know where you at. My fans, the ME addicts, Billboard once again, and I want to thank Janet, because she’s been someone who I could call at any time.
“Y’all don’t know, I’ve been through so much. Mentally and physically, I have went through a lot, so standing here today means so much. I thank you Janet, and lastly, I want to thank all those women who came before me, and I don’t know if y’all know how important that is to me because they kicked down the door for me to be able to walk through. So, I don’t stand here to take the credit. Because of them, those ones before me, I thank you, and I thank my peers and those after me, but those ones before me, I want to tell y’all that I love y’all so much and Aaliyah, I hope you’re looking down and that you are proud of me. I miss you much and Ciara, I love you so much, sis. I thank you, I thank you. I love you so much. And I thank y’all once again.”
Watch the Missy Elliott Dance Tribute to the 2015 Innovator performed by an incredible troupe of dancers below.