Kelly Rowland defends Chris Brown, tells jeering crowd to ‘chill out’ at AMA ceremony


Kelly Rowland on stage at the 2022 American Music Awards. (Photo: TBEN)

Kelly Rowland is not very divided or controversial in pop music. But when the Destiny’s Child star found herself in the awkward position of having to accept the trophy of Favorite Male R&B Artist on behalf of the absent (and decidedly divisive and controversial) Chris Brown at Sunday’s American Music Awards ceremony, they end up confronting the protesting public. .

A little background here: In addition to attending Sunday’s AMAs, Brown would also pay tribute to another divisive and controversial artist, the late Michael Jackson, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Jackson’s milestone Thriller album. The day before the awards, Brown posted a seven-minute Instagram video — captioned only “U SERIOUS?” — of him rehearsing an elaborately choreographed medley of Jackson’s “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller,” claiming in the post’s comments that his Jackson tribute to the last was called off minute. “SHOULD have been the ama gig but they canceled me for unknown reasons,” he wrote. (A representative from the AMAs did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.)

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So Brown didn’t show up at Sunday’s AMAs, presumably in protest, forcing host Rowland to accept his award. When the audience started booing after she announced that Brown had won Favorite Male R&B Artist over Brent Faiyaz, GIVĒON, Lucky Daye and The Weeknd, she seemed surprised and even annoyed by the backlash.

“Excuse me – relax,” Rowland scolded, pointing a finger at the rowdy crowd. She then went on sternly: “But I wanted to say Chris, thank you so much for making great R&B music. And I want to thank him for being an incredible artist. I take this award, bring it to you. I love you. Congratulations. And congratulations to all the nominees in this category.”

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Among the highlights of the 2022 American Music Awards ceremony, held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 20, were Pink’s rollerskating opening number and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” tribute to Olivia Newton-John; Favorite Female Latin Artist winner Anitta’s duet with surprise guest Missy Elliott in “Lobby”; a powerful performance of Song of Soul winner “Break the Bough” by Americana artist Yola; and the emotional speech from Best New Artist winner Dove Cameron, who is bisexual, in which she dedicated her award to the “queer community at large” and honored the victims of this weekend’s shooting at Colorado’s LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q.

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The ceremony culminated with Lionel Richie receiving the Lifetime Achievement Icon Award from Smokey Robinson, after which Stevie Wonder and Charlie Puth performed a Richie medley and were joined by Ari Lennox, Muni Long, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmie Allen, Yola, Robinson, and Richie himself for a sentimental performance of “We Are the World,” which Richie wrote in 1985 with the aforementioned Jackson.

The big winner of the night was Taylor Swift, who won all six of her categories, including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year – breaking her own AMAs record and bringing her win total to 40. For a full list of 2022 American Music Award winners, click here.

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