Mariah Carey was awarded the BMI Icon accolade during the publishing association’s annual Urban Awards Friday night (Sept. 7) at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. The chart-topping songbird accepted the honor following a DJ set by producer and longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri and stellar cover performances by Joe ("We Belong Together"), crooner Eric Benet with Mariah's background singer Takeytha "Teka" Johnson ("One Sweet Day"), gospel behemoth Karen Clark Sheard ("Anytime You Need a Friend") andAmerican Idol’s Fantasia who, after kicking off her heels, belted out the fan-favorite "Hero."
"I don't know if I’m coming or going but I'm happy to be here," Carey said, basking in her moment in front of an audience of songwriters, producers and celebrities. The consummate diva came outfitted in a snug black gown and glistening platinum cuffs with a mass of voluminous curls. She was both humble and gracious during her acceptance but maintained her signature sassy beat. "Go wide! I’m trying to get a better pose," Mariah instructed the photographers at one point as she shimmied across the stage with husband Nick Cannon in tow. "It’s a pleasure to be here, being a supportive husband," Cannon gushed on the red carpet to reporters. "My wife is an icon and at the same time, is the best wife in the world." With this new nod from BMI, Mariah joins the ranks of other Icons like Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Willie Nelson and James Brown.
Carey accepted the night’s most prestigious honor, the BMI Icon Award, for her “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”
She has had 18 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, tying Elvis Presley among solo acts and behind only the Beatles, whose singles made it to the top of the chart 20 times. Carey has written or cowritten the majority of her songbook.
During the private ceremony at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, BMI President and Chief Executive Del Bryant said Carey’s contributions hadn't been given enough credit.
“She is the best songwriter in the history of music. I knew that BMI had to have her. Mariah, 'we belong together.' Is that a cheap shot?,” he joked. “Today we take for granted the synthesis of hip-hop and R&B. [But] it was Mariah’s vision.”
“I'm sweating, I'm crying. I don't know which way I'm coming but I'm happy. I'm humbled and grateful,” an emotional Carey said as she looked to husband Nick Cannon and manager, collaborator and "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson. “A lot of people don't know I write my own songs, and it’s like well, damn, what do I have to do?”
CNN: Mariah on her most revealing song.
E! Online: Mariah Carey Receives BMI Icon award.