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Pink, Janelle Monae, Atlantic Records' Julie Greenwald Honored by Billboard

Pink Janelle Monae - P 2013
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Pink and Janelle Monae

The Dec. 10 Women in Music event was held at Capitale in New York City and featured appearances by fun. singer Nate Ruess, Christina Perri, Andy Cohen and Soledad O'Brien.

This article first appeared on billboard.com.

"I remember when I won Female Rock Vocal for Grammys for ‘Trouble,’ I think it was 10 years ago,” Pink 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.”

Pink’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, Pink didn’t expect to take top honors. “These are names that popped into my head, and not just music, but Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie,” Pink 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 on the afternoon of Dec. 10 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.

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Pink 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 Pink and Monae with respective performances. Atlantic Records Group singer-songwriter Christina Perri also performed her new single “Human” to honor her label’s chairman and COO Julie Greenwald, Billboard’s top-ranked Woman in Music.

Nate Ruess of fun. also was on hand to honor collaborators and honorees Pink and Monae, 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 Pink, based on their dysfunctional process of writing and eventually recording hit duet “Just Give Me a Reason” together. “To know Pink 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.”

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Monae had words of wisdom to share for the next generation of “Electric Ladies” she hopes to inspire, having come from a very humble upbringing with a custodian mother who raised her as a teenager in impoverished Wyandot County, Kan. “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.”

Pink had similar wishes for the next generation of young women. “I wish that girls would embrace 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.”

Twitter: @billboardbiz