P!nk, Janelle Monáe Honored at Billboard's Women in Music Event

Michael Seto

"I remember when I won the Female Rock Vocal Grammy for 'Trouble,' I think it was 10 years ago," P!nk recalled from the stage at Billboard's Women In Music luncheon Tuesday, accepting the award for Woman of the Year. "And the very next day, they dissolved the category. So Billboard, if this speech sucks, please wait one year. If you're thinking about not doing this again, it's not my fault."


P!nk's triumph of the underdog story was shared by this year's Rising Star, Janelle Monae, and many of the 40 female executives on Billboard's Women In Music power list. Many still face sexism, unfair competition and other challenges in their daily work lives. And even in a year where many females dominated the pop charts, P!nk didn't expect to take top honors. 

"These are names that popped into my head, and not just music, but Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie," she said. "Or Miley Cyrus, if you're high as shit and you have a thing for tongues. You don't think, 'Oh yeah Woman of the Year? Pink for sure.' I don't, anyway, but I'm not going to argue with you."

All of the honorees were feted Tuesday (Dec. 10) afternoon at the annual Billboard Women in Music event at Capitale in New York City sponsored by Nikon, Target, CoverGirl and City National Bank. The event was co-hosted this year by broadcast journalist/executive producer and CEO of Starfish Media Group, Soledad O'Brien, alongside Billboard Editorial Director, Bill Werde. A full list of the Women In Music honorees was posted Tuesday on Billboard Biz.


P!nk was interviewed on stage by Andy Cohen, host and executive producer of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," while Monae spoke with Tamron Hall, host of NewsNation on MSNBC. Indie pop duo Tegan and Sara and breakout synth rock band Chvrches paid musical tribute to P!nk and Monáe with respective performances. Atlantic Records Group singer/songwriter Christina Perri also performed new single "Human" to honor her label's Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald, Billboard's top-ranked Woman In Music.

Nate Ruess of fun. was also on hand to honor collaborators P!nk and Monáe, as well as his label boss, Greenwald. 

"To be able to work with Julie Greenwald has been such an honor. I have been dropped by Julie Greenwald, and to know Julie Greenwald is to be dropped by Julie Greenwald," Ruess said, referencing previous musical projects of his like The Format, "and then to turn around and do what we've done [with fun.] I learned from every single thing and I learn from her every single day. I'm so proud to be on your label."

Ruess had similar words of tough love for P!nk, based on their dysfunctional process of writing and eventually recording hit duet "Just Give Me A Reason" together. 

"To know P!nk is to have been hung up on the phone from her in a heated debate," he said. "I didn't want to sing on that song, I just wanted to write it with you. And you twisted my arm and I've never been happier for doing anything. And it is such a testament to what an unbelievable songwriter you are. I spend all my time hoping that in our career we can emulate what you've done, which is just be yourself."

Monae had similar words of wisdom to share for the next generation of "Electric Ladies" she hopes to inspire, having come from very humble upbringings -- she was raised by her custodian mother in the impoverished Wyandot County, Kansas. "One of the things the President said today about Nelson Mandela was, 'Don't ever underestimate the power of one man. So don't ever underestimate the power of one woman."

P!nk had similar wishes for the next generation of young women. "I wish that girls embraced their power and words and value in their youth, and not sell it or barter it and have to buy it back later in life. I wish for my daughter to grow up in a world where wonderful publications like Billboard celebrate them for their originality and individuality and willingness to be themselves, and the courage to be scary and get shit done. I wish for women to stop apologizing for those very things that make us women. And I wish for every woman that has ever helped me to know how much I feel their part in this story."