Lady Gaga brought down the house at Billboard’s annual Women in Music event in New York on Friday with a gripping performance of her tribute song to victims of sexual assault, “Til It Happens to You.”
Gaga was on-hand to receive Billboard’s Woman of the Year honor and was introduced by her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, who recounted how her daughter learned to walk by grabbing the leg of the family piano, “and in the process managed to reach the keys.”
“Four years later, she was playing by ear,” she said. Germanotta also got a huge laugh from the audience by revealing that “at the age of six, she wrote her first song – called Dollar Bills.”
Gaga then took the stage wearing a ruby red suit to perform the social awareness anthem that she co-wrote with legendary songwriter Diane Warren for the college sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground, which premiered at Sundance in January and will air on CNN later this year. She pounded away at her grand piano while an eight-piece string section accompanied her from the wings.
?Upon receiving the Woman of the Year honor from her mother, Gaga, who just received her first Golden Globe nomination on Thursday for American Horror Story: Hotel, described how it’s “really hard sometimes for women in music. It’s like a fucking boys club that we just can’t get into.”
“Sorry, Grandma,” she interjected to her grandmother seated with the rest of her family in the audience. She then expounded on the vital role of women in the music industry.
“Women provide a wisdom to music that is very unique and special,” she said. “It is a perspective no one else can have because we bear life. And because we go through things no one else goes through. And because it’s right. Because we’re all equal.”
She ended her speech with a message to all of those who didn’t believe in her along the way (“probably more than did believe,” she noted): “I couldn’t wait to prove you wrong. Because I may not be a lot of things, but I can write songs, and I can sing.”
Billboard Women in Music will air on Lifetime Dec. 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET.