Following a stellar opening performance from Dua Lipa at the 2020 Billboard Women in Music virtual event on Thursday night (Dec. 10), the pop star accepted the evening’s first honor: the Powerhouse Award.
The award, given to an an act whose music dominated streaming, sales and radio, was presented by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who first addressed this “unprecedented year” before diving into his admiration for the way in which Lipa not only adapted to the changes 2020 brought — namely how she innovated the promotion and performance of her acclaimed second album, Future Nostalgia — but also for how she used her platform and voice through it all.
“What this year has made clear, more than anything else, is that none of us can go back to business as usual,” said Sanders in his introduction. “The winner of tonight’s Powerhouse Award understands that. … She has said loudly and clearly with her actions that now is the time to fight for a better future for all. She is fighting for young people, women, refugees, the LGBT community [and] she is using her platform to bring people into the democratic process. She is raising her voice to demand real change.”
Sanders then revealed he and Lipa spoke over Zoom a few weeks ago, before delivering this eye-wink of a statement (calling out her 2017 hit): “She knows the rules have to change, that it is time for new rules.”
With her Powerhouse Award in hand, Lipa called Sanders a “personal hero” of hers. She continued to say that while every award is special, she’s particularly proud of this one because it represents standing in solidarity with her “fellow female artists and women all over the world.” She emphasized the importance of equality by citing that only 2.6% of producers of Billboard Hot 100 songs are women, with under 1% being women of color.
“We’ve still got so far to go for real equality,” she said. “Let’s keep celebrating the women, and keep encouraging all the young girls out there to be the powerhouses of the future.”