SZA Shines As Woman Of The Year At 2023 Billboard Women In Music

By DeMicia Inman

Billboard kicked off Women’s History Month with its annual Women In Music event on Wednesday night (March 1) at the YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles.

The entire ceremony, hosted by Quinta Brunson, spotlighted the accomplishments of women in various fields excelling in the music industry. VIBE joined the audience flooded with fans of the K-pop group TWICE who were honored with this year’s Breakthrough Award.

The night’s honorees include SZA, who was recognized as Billboard‘s Woman Of The Year. Taking a break from her record-breaking SOS Tour, the R&B singer was later recognized by Executive Of The Year honoree Sylvia Rhone who gave a shoutout to the Top Dawg Entertainment star for changing the game for R&B.

In SZA’s unplanned, yet touching acceptance speech, she offered advice for all attendees and viewers.

“I didn’t write anything, but that’s also not who I am,” said SZA after fellow New Jersey artist Coi Leray presented the award. “I’m a very off-the-dome kind of person, and I guess what I wanted to say is like, there’s so many women in this room right now that I respect so deeply. This could have been any of us in this room.”

She continued, “Whether it’s Lana Del Rey or Olivia Rodrigo or Chloe or Doechii who is a fu**ing star or Latto, or even Coi, my very own Jersey baby. I think sometimes there’s a misconception where everybody always feels like that girl, like, oh, I know I’m that b—-h and I have a lot of confidence. It’s OK to not be that person all the time. I used to feel like I didn’t belong because I don’t always feel like that. But I realized that the key is to stay open and available for whatever the universe or God wants to do with your life. Even when you don’t know who you are or you may not see, I don’t know why telling these on Billboard, I’m grateful.”

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Doechii, the first woman rapper to be signed to TDE, was also recognized with the 2023 Rising Star Award presented by Honda. Her mother, Celesta Moore, introduced the Florida-bred artist before she hit the stage to perform “Persuasive” and “Crazy.”

“Girl, I done danced my shoe off,” said the 24-year-old after being presented with the award. In her acceptance speech, she recognized her predecessors Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, and Janelle Monáe who were all previously named Billboard’s rising star.

“By year five, I want to be at my peak. I want to be in my Sasha Fierce era, the top of my game with still a long way to go — but I want to reach my prime and never leave it,” she expressed.

Another highlight of the event came when Chloe Bailey introduced Latto, the recipient of the 2023 Powerhouse Award. The Clayton County, Ga. representative performed her latest single, “Lottery” featuring rising pop star Lu Kala.

In her acceptance speech, Latoo recognized her peers Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion, who previously held the same honor.

“It’s crazy because I’m a fan of my peers and they’re now my peers,” she said as she tightly held the hand of her “For The Night” collaborator. “All the inspiring women who paved the way for me and all the women that there are to come. I’m grateful to be a part of this new wave of female rap and baby, we kickin’ down the door and we ain’t takin’ no for an answer.”

The entire celebratory night included moments like TWICE fans’ thunderous appreciation for the girl group and a surprise appearance from Bad Bunny honoring Ivy Queen. Wondagurl introduced Rosalía who paid homage to Missy Elliott while accepting the inaugural Producer of the Year Award presented by Bose. Brunson shared her favorite women in music in the audience including Victoria Monét and Baby Tate.

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Additional honorees include Lana Del Rey who received the Visionary Award, Kim Petras who received the Chartbreaker Award, Becky G who received the Impact Award, and Lainey Wilson who received the Rule Breaker Award.

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