The 2016 Billboard Music Awards were expected to deliver a note of melancholy along with the celebration on Sunday as Madonna pays tribute to Prince and Celine Dion gives her first televised performance since the death of her husband.
Prince, the innovative, Grammy-winning pop superstar best known for such hits as “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry,” died at his home in Minnesota last month at the age of 57.
Dion’s husband, producer Rene Angelil, died at the age of 73 in January after a long battle with cancer. The Canadian crooner’s brother passed away two days later.
The Billboard Music Awards, which will be broadcast live on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, will also include singer Kesha honoring Bob Dylan in a widely-anticipated moment that was nearly canceled by her record-label amid a bitter legal fight.
Kemosabe Records on Thursday reversed a decision to bar Kesha from singing, saying it had obtained assurances from the pop star that she would not use the performance as a platform to address her failed legal bid against Sony Corp’s Sony Music and producer Dr. Luke.
Kemosabe Records, which was founded by Dr. Luke, is a unit of Sony Music. Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke in 2014 accusing him of sexual assault and earlier this year sought unsuccessfully to scrap her six-album recording contract.
Celebrity news outlet TMZ.com, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier this month that Kesha was planning a “statement performance” at the awards show that would be focused on “her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke” and “might even include images of him.”
The singer’s legal case sparked the #FreeKesha campaign on social media and earned support from artists such as Taylor Swift, Adele and Lady Gaga.
Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were also expected to perform during Sunday night’s awards, which will be hosted by Ciara and Ludacris.