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Madonna, Kesha get emotional when accepting Billboard honors

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/9/2016 By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
Madonna attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Madonna attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — The annual Billboard Women In Music event featured emotional and heartfelt speeches about the uphill battles women face in the music industry, including personal stories from top honoree Madonna and pop singer Kesha.

Kesha attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Kesha attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The Material Girl, named woman of the year Friday, was passionate as she spoke onstage in New York about being raped at knifepoint, battling critics, and being called words like "whore," ''witch" and "Satan" throughout her career.

Shania Twain attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Shania Twain attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"I remember feeling paralyzed. It took me a while to pull myself together and get on with my creative life — to get on with my life. I took comfort in the poetry of Maya Angelou, and the writings of James Baldwin, and in the music of Nina Simone. I remember wishing that I had a female peer that I could look to for support," 58-year-old Madonna said at Pier 36, where the audience included fellow honoree Shania Twain, Nick Jonas, Anderson Cooper and dozens of music industry executives.

Madonna attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Madonna attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"People say that I'm so controversial, but I think the most controversial thing I have ever done is to stick around," Madonna said at another point. "Michael is gone. Tupac is gone. Prince is gone. Whitney is gone. Amy Winehouse is gone. David Bowie is gone. But I'm still standing,"

Andra Day attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Andra Day attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Cooper introduced Madonna, his friend, with touching words.

Rita Ora attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Rita Ora attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"For me as a gay teenager growing up, her music wasn't just a soundtrack to my life, her music and her outspokenness, her willingness to stand up, her courage — it showed me as a teenager a way forward, a pathway," he said.

Idina Menzel attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Idina Menzel attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The event also paid tribute to platinum-selling singer Kesha — who is currently in a legal battle with her former mentor and producer Dr. Luke — with its trailblazer award.

Maren Morris attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Maren Morris attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"It's mind-blowing to be honored like this after the very public year I've had. I feel stuck, and I feel sad. And quite frankly today I feel bloated," she said, as the crowd laughed. "I didn't really feel like standing up and getting an award — I didn't feel worthy of that. But I knew I had to drag myself out of my bed, put on my boots and walk up here (today) and say thank you to you guys."

Hailee Steinfeld attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Hailee Steinfeld attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The audience applauded loudly.

Alessia Cara attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Alessia Cara attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Then Kesha added in a serious tone: "Most importantly, do not let anyone else ever take your happiness. You are worth it, and thank you for reminding me that I'm worth it, too."

Nick Jonas attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Nick Jonas attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Twain was given the icon award, while other honorees included country singer Maren Morris and pop singers Halsey, Alessia Cara and Meghan Trainor, who didn't attend the event because she is on vocal rest. Fifth Harmony sang in honor of the "All About That Bass" performer.

Halsey attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Halsey attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"It's an honor — that's the only thing that comes to mind," said Grammy-nominated R&B singer Andra Day, who earned the powerhouse award. "It's humbling. It's fulfilling. I'm experiencing so much gratitude at the same time because these women are part of the reason that I'm even able to be here."

Charli XCX attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Charli XCX attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The annual Billboard luncheon also honored 100 female music executives, including iTunes and Apple Music's head of global consumer marketing, Bozoma Saint John, who was ranked No.1. Before she spoke, she received warm words from Lady Gaga via video.

Regina Spektor attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Regina Spektor attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Madonna's successful year included her top-grossing Rebel Heart Tour, which sold more than one million tickets.

Sabrina Carpenter attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Sabrina Carpenter attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music honors at Pier 36 on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in New York. Billboard Women in Music 2016 will air Dec. 12 on Lifetime. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"To the doubters, the naysayers, to everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not, that I must not, your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today, made me the woman that I am today. So thank you," she said.

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