Kelly has been chosen to receive the award for solidifying her voice in the past year with character-defining work on her album Unbreakable Smile, which bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and launched the top 20 Pop Songs “Nobody Love” and “Should’ve Been Us.” Combined, her songs and albums have sold nearly 1.5 million in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, while her songs and videos have accrued 163 million on-demand streams.
“Tori Kelly has had a very hot 2015 with a strong debut album solidifying her place in pop,” said Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media’s Entertainment Group, which consists of Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. “From YouTube videos to live performances, she’s gone from virtual unknown to the top of the A list in the blink of an eye, the true definition of a ‘breakthrough’.”
In addition to Kelly’s Breakthrough honor, Missy Elliott will receive the inaugural Innovator award and Lady Gaga will be named Woman of the Year. Loretta Lynn, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Fifth Harmony, Kelsea Ballerini and Lana Del Rey will also be honored. In addition to Kelly, Lovato, Gaga, Gomez and Howard will also perform.
Billboard’s Women in Music ceremony will air on Lifetime Dec. 18. The event is held alongside Billboard’s Women in Music list, which names the year’s 50 most powerful female executives in the industry.