It’s been nearly 20 years since Mariah Carey won her last Grammy, but on Thursday night the singer received the gramophone for her global impact from the recording academy’s Black Music Collective.
Considered by many to be a major snub at the awards ceremony, she delivered her characteristic sarcasm upon receiving the award. “Is this a real Grammy? I haven’t seen one in so long. Is weird. I don’t know… We’ll find out what that is later,” she joked.
Carey received the honor from the Black Music Collective for being a “Black music creator whose dedication to the art form has greatly influenced the industry and whose legacy of service inspires countless people around the world.” In her speech, the singer became serious and said that she had to fight to sing and write the type of music that she felt closest to.
“When I started in the music industry, I was often told to conform to certain expectations. I wasn’t encouraged to focus on my love of black music. There were countless arguments, endless tantrums – I’ll call them tantrums – and, most of all, unshakable determination, but eventually I managed to reveal my true identity, as they say, and create music that came from my heart. In doing so, I discovered a renewed sense of freedom and fulfillment,” she said.
“I accept this award on behalf of every person who has ever felt silenced or marginalized, who has ever been told that their voice doesn’t matter. Your truth matters,” she added. “We will continue to pave the way together towards a future where authenticity is celebrated, diversity is embraced and music has the power to change the world.”
The singer is one of the best-selling artists of all time and holds the record for the most #1 hits (20 in total) by a solo artist.
She was nominated for 34 Grammys, but won only five: best new artist and best female pop vocal performance (“Vision of Love”) in 1991, as well as three R&B honors at the 2006 ceremony for “We Belong Together” and The Emancipation of Mimi.
Several artists paid tribute to Mariah on stage. Babyface, for example, performed songs he worked on with Carey, including “Every Time I Close My Eyes” and “When You Believe.”
Another name on the list was Yolanda Adams, who brought the audience to their feet with a rousing performance of the lively “Make It Happen”; Tori Kelly performed “Vision of Love”; and Busta Rhymes set the stage on fire with “I Know What You Want.”
However, it was Stevie Wonder who stole the show. He truly serenaded the diva as he sang and played the piano, telling her: “I love you and this will be forever.”
But Carey wasn’t the only honoree, Lenny Kravitz, who also received the Global Impact Award, thanked her by saying:
“Ever since my dad took me to Madison Square Garden to see the Jackson 5, my head exploded, and after that show, my life has never been the same. I was so into their music that I fantasized about being their long-lost brother and turned the Jackson 5 into the Jackson 6. And in my school notebook, instead of writing my name, I wrote Lenny Jackson.”