Lady Gaga, sporting a see-through dress decorated with feathers and human hair, arrived first. "Twelve months ago I never would have imagined being here and receiving this award," Gaga told Billboard.com.
Inside, Billboard's Publisher, Howard Appelbaum, gave the welcoming remarks before introducing Bill Werde, Billboard's Editorial Director. He introduced Billboard's Women In Music Power Player List, which includes Universal Motown Records President Sylvia Rhone, MTV Chairman/CEO Judy McGrath and William Morris' Cara Lewis, noting that the 2009 group "was the most diverse yet."
Werde then introduced Lady Gaga, saying that "She's procovative, fearless and most importantly, a prodigious songwriter." After a short speech highlighting all of her achievements in the past year, followed by a video reel, Gaga accepted the award herself. "I didn't expect to be accepted into the pop community like I have," Gaga said, holding back tears. "With help from radio program directors, the gay community, fans and people like Billboard we had a remarkable year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Gaga was then interviewed by NBC's "Today" co-host Hoda Kotb, during which she addressed the cancellation of her upcoming "Fame Kills" tour with Kanye West. "Everyone makes mistakes," she said of West's now legendary MTV VMA's outburst. "It's unfortunate, but he's a good person. And I think its important to stand by friends."
Werde then introduced Billboard's 2009 Woman of the Year recipient. "It is theoretically possible someone on some other planet had a better year than Beyonce," he quipped. "But I'm not buying it."
"It's obvious how classy she is," Werde continued about Beyonce, who was accompanied by her mother and father, Matthew and Tina Knowles, and Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child. Beyonce accepted the award, remarking "I am the luckiest woman in the world."
Beyonce then took the hot seat alongside radio personality and Oprah's best friend, Gayle King, for a Q&A during which she was probed about her relationship with husband Jay-Z, her position as a role model for young women, and her goals for the future. "I really want to win an Oscar," she revealed.
The event closed with heart-rending renditions of Beyonce's hits "Halo" and "Single Ladies," performed by Staten Island grade schoolers, the P.S. 22 Chorus.