The first Woman of the Year Billboard Music Award was awarded to Reba McEntire in 2007. Entertainment media publication, Billboard, has been rewarding artists for their work with the Billboard Music Awards since the 90s (not counting the years the awards were not held, 2007-2010). But the awards sprung back into action in 2011 and have continued until present day.
It is suffice to say, women have never been on the same playing field as their male counterparts when it came to the music industry. Billboard decided to recognized this after presenting the very first Woman of the Year Award. The award was established to recognize women in the music industry. The winner is based on the recipient’s significant contributions through hard work, her continual success, and her overall influence as an artist.
This step to recognize and award this group of artists not only created a stepping stone for women’s empowerment, but it also serves as inspiration for women of all generations to share and celebrate the music they’ve created for their community.
Past winners of Woman of the Year Award include: Ciara, Beyonce, Fergie, and more recently, Selena Gomez, recipient in 2017.
The year after the first Woman of the Year Award was established, a second award was added called the Rising Star Award. It was given to Colbie Caillat in 2008. Since then, other categories have been added such as the Rule-Breaker Award, TrailBlazer, and more awards that diversified the qualities brought into the music industry.
In addition, to honor women who have made historical contributions, the Icon of the Year Award category was created and awarded in 2014 to Aretha Franklin.
2018’s recipient for Woman of the Year is popstar, singer, songwriter and activist Ariana Grande who has had a successful year with the release of her album Sweetener, topping charts with her singles ”God is a Woman” and ”Thank U, Next.” Grande is also recognized for using her platform to draw attention and support for social causes such as gun control, mental health awareness and issues for the LGBTQ community.
Some familiar names also being honored at the event are R&B star SZA, country singer Kacey Musgraves, and rising star Hayley Kiyoko, who all add their cultural impact from their respective genres.
The upcoming Billboard’ s Women in Music event will be held on Dec. 6 in New York at the 13th annual Women in Music dinner and awards gala 7:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m EST.