Kelly Rowland doesn’t tend to be a very divisive or controversial figure in pop music. But when the Destiny’s Child star found herself in the awkward position of accepting the Favorite Male R&B Artist trophy on behalf of the absent (and decidedly divisive and controversial) Chris Brown at Sunday’s American Music Awards, she ended up confronting the protesting audience. .
A little background here: Brown was expected to not only attend Sunday’s AMAs, but also perform a tribute to another divisive and controversial artist, the late Michael Jackson, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Jackson’s death. Thriller album. The day before the awards, Brown posted a seven-minute video on Instagram — captioned only “REALLY?” — of him rehearsing an elaborately choreographed medley of Jackson’s “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “Billie Jean” and ” Thriller”, while claiming in the comments of the post that his tribute to Jackson was ultimately withdrawn “Would have been an ama show but they canceled me for unknown reasons,” he wrote. (A representative for the AMA did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.)
So Brown didn’t show up for Sunday’s AMAs, presumably in protest, so host Rowland accepted his award. When audience members began booing after she announced that Brown had won Favorite Male R&B Artist over Brent Faiyaz, GIVĒON, Lucky Day and the Weeknd, she seemed surprised and even angered by the strong reaction.
“Excuse me—calm down,” Rowland scolded, pointing sternly at the rowdy crowd. She then continued, “But I wanted to say to Chris, thank you so much for making great R&B music. And I want to thank him for being an incredible artist. I’ll take this award, I’ll bring it to you. I love you. Congratulations. And congratulations to all the nominees in this category.”
Highlights of the 2022 American Music Awards, held on Sunday, November 20 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, included Pink’s opening number on roller skates and Olivia Newton-John’s tribute, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”; Favorite Latin Artist winner Anitta’s duet with surprise guest Missy Elliott on “Lobby”; a powerful performance of Song of Soul winner “Break the Bough” by American artist Yola; and an emotional speech from Best New Artist winner Dove Cameron, who is bisexual, in which she dedicated her award to “the queer community as a whole” and honored the victims of this weekend’s shooting at LGBTQ+ Colorado nightspot Club Q.
The ceremony culminated with the presentation of the Icon Lifetime Achievement Award by Smokey Robinson to Lionel Richie, after which Stevie Wonder and Charlie Puth performed Richie’s mix and were joined by Ari Lennox, Muni Long, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmie Allen, Yola, Robinson, and Richie himself for a sentimental performance “We Are the World”, which Richie wrote in 1985 with the aforementioned Jackson.
The big winner of the night was Taylor Swift, who swept all six of her categories, including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year — breaking her own AMAs record and bringing her total to 40. For the full list of American Music 2022 award winners, click here.
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