Watch Beyoncé Accept the Innovator Award at 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards


On Monday night (April 1), Beyoncé took the stage at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre to accept the Innovator Award at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards, mere days after releasing her new album Cowboy Carter. The pop star accepted the trophy from Stevie Wonder, who she thanked for playing harmonica on “Jolene,” and dedicated the award to her innovators: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Tracy Chapman, Linda Martell, Prince, Stevie Wonder, André 3000, Tina Turner, and Michael Jackson. Watch a replay of the moment below.

“I love you and I honor you,” Beyoncé said to Wonder during her speech. “I want to thank you for making a way for all of us. I’m honored to receive this recognition from you, Stevie Wonder. Whenever anyone asks me if there’s anyone I can listen to for the rest of my life, it’s always you.”

“Innovation starts with a dream, but then you have to execute that dream and that road can be very bumpy,” she continued. “Being an innovator is saying what everyone believes is impossible. Being an innovator often means being criticized, which often will test your mental strength. Being an innovator is leaning on faith and trusting that God will catch you and guide you. So, to all the record labels, every radio station, every award show, my hope is that we’re more open to the joy and liberation that comes from enjoying art, with no preconceived notions.”

Over its 27-song tracklist, Cowboy Carter includes covers of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” as well as collaborations with Parton herself, Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Shaboozey, Linda Martell, Willie Jones, Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts, and Beyoncé’s own child Rumi Carter. Though the album title and its lead singles “16 Carriages” and “Texas Hold ’Em” suggested it was a country album, Beyoncé has gone on the record to correct that, saying, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.”

“This album took over five years,” Beyoncé said in a press release. “It’s been really great to have the time and the grace to be able to take my time with it. I was initially going to put Cowboy Carter out first, but with the pandemic, there was too much heaviness in the world. We wanted to dance. We deserved to dance. But I had to trust God’s timing.”

Cowboy Carter, which was originally announced as Act II, follows 2022’s Renaissance. “Texas Hold ’Em” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, making Beyoncé the first Black woman to do so. The song also topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Beyoncé’s ninth track to do so and first since “Break My Soul.”

Read the Best New Music review of Cowboy Carter.