Drake thanks mother as he wins big at Billboard Music Awards

Mariah Carey and Cardi B were also among the winners.

Drake thanked his mother as he won big at an eventful Billboard Music Awards.

The Canadian rapper cemented his position at the top of the pop pyramid following another year of worldwide smash hits including Nice For What and In My Feelings.

He took home 12 awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday, including the coveted top artist prize seeing off competition from fellow industry heavyweights Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Travis Scott.

His wins made him the most celebrated artist ever at the Billboard awards, with a career total of 27.

2019 Billboard Music Awards – Show
Canadian rapper Drake was among the winners at the Billboard Music Awards (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Drake, who began his career as an actor on teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation in the early 2000s, paid tribute to his mother during his acceptance speech.

He said: “I just want to thank my mom for her relentless effort in my life because just to win any award here is incredible but to win this award is unbelievable and surreal.

“I want to thank my mom for all the times you drove me to piano when I didn’t want to do piano, all the times you drove me to basketball and hockey – that clearly didn’t work out – all the times you drove me to Degrassi.

“No matter how long it took me to figure out what I wanted to do, you were always there to give me a ride and now we’re all on one hell of a ride.”

Drake earlier called for artists to respect each other while accepting the prize for top male artist.

Elsewhere, the stage inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena saw blockbuster performances from some of the industry’s biggest acts, including The Jonas Brothers, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey, who won the icon award.

Pop diva Carey brought the star-studded audience to their feet during a medley of her greatest hits and was given a standing ovation for her acceptance speech.

She said she had “always felt like an outsider” and “someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere”.

“Icon? I really don’t think of myself in that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself”, Carey added.

Swift was spotted shouting “we love you” from the audience. Earlier, she opened the show with an energetic performance of her latest hit single.

2019 Billboard Music Awards – Show
Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie perform Me! at the Billboard Music Awards (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The pop superstar took to the stage alongside Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie, who features on the newly released track Me!

Swift and Urie wore matching shimmering outfits for an upbeat performance, while accompanied by a marching band.

An early winner on the night was British star Ella Mai, who was named top R&B Artist.

2019 Billboard Music Awards – Show
Ella Mai was named top R&B artist at the Billboard Music Awards (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

She saw off competition from H.E.R, Khalid, The Weeknd and late rapper XXXTentacion.

Ella Mai was born in London but moved to New York as a child and has experienced more success in her adopted country than the UK, thanks to her number one hit Boo’d Up.

Cardi B added to her growing trophy cabinet with 12 wins, including the prize for top 100 song, in recognition of Girls Like You, a collaboration with Maroon 5.

K-pop superstars BTS took home the prize for top social artists before the ceremony had officially got under way and added to their haul when named top duo/group.

The wildly popular band took to the stage to deafening screams, before telling the crowd success had not changed them and they still have the “same dreams”.

2019 Billboard Music Awards – Show
BTS perform Boy With Luv at the Billboard Music Awards (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Imagine Dragons won top rock group and used their acceptance speech to condemn the use of conversion therapy in the US.

Frontman Dan Reynolds said the pseudo-scientific practice, used to change an individual’s sexual orientation, is legal in 34 states and called for a total ban.

Paula Abdul closed the show with her first awards ceremony performance in 29 years, which included hits such as Straight Up, Way That You Love Me and Opposites Attract.

Unlike other awards ceremonies, including the Grammys, there is no body of experts deciding who wins at the Billboards, instead prizes are handed out based on album and digital songs sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring, and social engagement.

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