Travis Scott, Morgan Wallen hit Billboard Music Awards stage

2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Press_Room_17398 Doja Cat poses in the press room with the awards for top R&B artist, top R&B female artist, top viral song for "Kiss Me More" and top R&B album for "Planet Her" at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_03647 Mari Copeny, an advocate for environmental justice, accepts the BBMA change maker award at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Press_Room_15971 Doja Cat poses in the press room with the awards for top R&B artist, top R&B female artist, top viral song for "Kiss Me More" and top R&B album for "Planet Her" at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Press_Room_15602 Doja Cat poses in the press room with the awards for top R&B artist, top R&B female artist, top viral song for "Kiss Me More" and top R&B album for "Planet Her" at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Press_Room_67835 Mari Copeny poses in the press room with the BBMA Change Maker Award at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
BILLBOARD_23965 Teyana Taylor, a la izquierda, mira a Mari Copeny, una defensora de la justicia ambiental, acepta el premio BBMA Change en los Premios Billboard de la Música el domingo 15 de mayo de 2022 en el MGM Grand Garden Arena en Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_84235 Mari Copeny, an advocate for environmental justice, accepts the BBMA change maker award at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Press_Room_41366 Mari Copeny poses in the press room with the BBMA Change Maker Award at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
FILE - Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards on May 15, 2022, will include performances by Scott, Ed Sheeran, Becky G and other artists who have enjoyed chart-topping success. Sean “Diddy” Combs will emcee the show, which is being broadcast live from the MGM Grand Arena and will air live on NBC and its Peacock streaming service.
Billboard_Music_Awards_35979 FILE - Ed Sheeran performs on stage at the Brit Awards 2022 in London Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards on May 15 will include performances by Sheeran, Travis Scott, Becky G and other artists who have enjoyed chart-topping success. Sean “Diddy” Combs will emcee the show, which is being broadcast live from the MGM Grand Arena and will air live on NBC and its Peacock streaming service.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_12991 Morgan Wallen performs at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
BILLBOARD_30711 Mary J. Blige recibe el Premio Ícono durante la ceremonia de los Premios Billboard de la Música, el domingo 15 de mayo de 2022 en el MGM Grand Garden Arena en Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_53036 Morgan Wallen performs at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_99302 Travis Scott, left, and daughter Stormi Webster arrive at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_44008 Travis Scott performs Mafia" at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_28561 Travis Scott arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
BILLBOARD_57458 Janet Jackson, a la derecha, entrega el Premio Ícono a Mary J. Blige durante la ceremonia de los Premios Billboard de la Música, el domingo 15 de mayo de 2022 en el MGM Grand Garden Arena en Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_60910 Morgan Wallen performs at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_82105 Morgan Wallen performs at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_81262 Pusha T, left, presents Morgan Wallen with the award for top country male artist at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Show_84549 Morgan Wallen accepts the award for top country male artist at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_96641 Travis Scott, left, and daughter Stormi Webster arrive at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_74814 Kylie Jenner, left, and Travis Scott arrive at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_16607 Sean "Diddy" Combs arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_56180 DJ Khaled arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_53301 DJ Khaled arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_99732 Giveon arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Latto, left, and Brooklyn Nikole arrive at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Latto arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_71371 Maxwell arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_96905 Giveon arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
2022_Billboard_Music_Awards_-_Arrivals_14862 Sean "Diddy" Combs arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
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Travis Scott and Morgan Wallen made controversial returns on the Billboard Music Awards stage on Sunday, while Mary J. Blige was honored for her musical excellence.

Wallen performed in his first major awards show after he was caught on camera more than a year ago using a racial slur. After not receiving a verbal introduction, the country star sat alongside his four-piece band and performed “Don’t Think Jesus” then his chart-topping “Wasted on You,” a single from his popular project “Dangerous: The Double Album.”

Shortly after his performance, rapper Pusha T presented Wallen with the top country artist award.

“I want to say, ‘Thank God.’ And thank my fans. I got the best damn fans,” said Wallen, who acknowledged his mother for accompanying him as his date to show. He also thanked for Billboard for inviting him. He did not mention last year’s incident, which once found the disgraced singer rebuked by the music industry.

“Thank you to my little boy,” he continued. “You inspire me every single day.”

Scott made his first televised performance since a massive crowd surge killed 10 people and injured thousands at his Astroworld Festival in Houston in November last year. The rapper performed his single “Mafia” in an icy, polar-themed set with heavily censored lyrics.

Mary J. Blige received the Icon Award for being an influential music maker. The singer, known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, was presented the award by Janet Jackson and escorted on stage by Sean “Diddy” Combs – who emceed the show, which was broadcasted live on NBC from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Blige said she was in a “dream right now” after she received the honor. She spoke about the journey of becoming an icon not being an easy feat during her stellar career.

“I’ve been on this journey for a long time, one that didn’t always look the way you see me now, one that is filled with a lot of heartache and pain,” she said. “But God helped me to channel those experiences and emotions in my music, which is where I started in music.”

Blige was honored through a video montage with appearances from Queen Latifah, Gabrielle Union and Taraji P. Henson. Previous award recipients include Prince, Steve Wonder, Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks, Pink, Celine Dion and Janet Jackson.

“I was ghetto fabulous and I still am,” said Blige, whose Dr. Dre-produced single “Family Affair” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001 and had four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. “So ghetto and so fabulous and people were threatened by that. Now, everybody wants to be ghetto fabulous.”

Maxwell paid homage to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in a performance that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the King of Pop’s 1982 album. The singer took the stage with sparkling black gloves and a jacket before he performed the heartfelt jam “The Lady in My Life.”

Combs honored activist Tamika Mallory with the Revolt Black Excellence Award. He applauded Mallory’s efforts as an organizer of the Women’s March in 2017, being an advocate for gun control and supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You fight for us on the front lines, and we just have to pay so much respect for you, queen,” Combs said before calling her “fearless.”

After hearing Combs’ gracious remarks, Mallory was almost moved to tears. She then took the opportunity to bring up the deadly mass shooting Saturday that left 10 dead in Buffalo, New York.

The white gunman was arrested on a murder charge after the supermarket attack, in what police called a hate crime, where most of the victims were Black.

“While they arrested the person who did the killing, they haven’t arrested the hate,” Mallory said. “They haven’t arrested the harm and the pain. And if you are not doing anything at this time, you’re actually doing something by being silent. I ask you tonight: Get involved, fight for justice.”

Earlier, Drake was named top artist, male artist, rap artist, rap male artist and rap album for “Certified Lover Boy.” The rapper extended his record as the most decorated winner in the history of the awards show with 34 wins.

Olivia Rodrigo and Kanye West, known as Ye, won six awards during a non-televised ceremony. Rodrigo was awarded best new artist.

Ye made his mark in the faith-based categories – again: The rapper won top Christian artist for the first time, but he claimed top gospel artist and gospel song for a third year in a row. He also received top gospel album for the second time.

The Kid LAROI became a first-time winner, taking home awards for his song “Stay” with Justin Bieber – whose Billboard Music Awards win count rose to 26.

Doja Cat came away with four awards. She won top R&B artist and R&B female artist for the second consecutive year, along with top R&B album and female artist.

Taylor Swift – who has the second most-ever award show wins with 29 – won four awards. Bad Bunny received two wins while R&B duo Silk Sonic, comprised of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, won their first-ever award for top R&B song for “Leave the Door Open.”

Amariyanna Copeny showed some nervousness after receiving the Changemaker Award for her community efforts in the Flint water crisis that began in 2014. The now 14-year-old Copeny, known as Little Miss Flint, often burst into laughter while reading the teleprompter on stage.

“I don’t do the work for accolades and clout,” Copeny said. “I do it for the kids back home in Flint that are still being poisoned by the water,” she continued. She was presented the award by Teyana Taylor.

Becky G, who released the album “Esquemas” on Friday, performed “Baile Con Mi Ex” and her hit song “MAMIII,” which topped the Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. Ed Sheeran delivered a remote performance from Northern Ireland, where he is on tour.

Other acts who took the stage include Miranda Lambert, Meghan Thee Stallion and Grammy Awards darlings Silk Sonic.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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