At the 2019 American Music Awards on Sunday night (November 24), Taylor Swift won the entire ceremony. Not just because she snagged the trophies for the five awards that she was nominated in, which surpassed Michael Jackson‘s record-setting total of 24 (Swift now has an almost unreal number of 29), but also because her emotional and powerful acceptance speeches for Artist of the Decade and Artist of the Year told her story in authentic ways.
Swift beamed as she took the stage to receive the Artist of the Decade honor from Carole King. She recounted her parents’ experiences with King’s seminal Tapestry album and contextualized them with her finding her love for music, setting the admirable tone of a student of music who has now become a professor herself. “All any of the artists, or really anyone in this room, wants is to create something that will last, whatever it is in life,” she said. “And the fact that this is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and of art and of fun and memories — all that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with you, the fans, over the years.”
Swift dedicated the remainder of her speech to hers, folding them into the umbrella of a family. “Guys, we’ve had fun, incredible, exhilarating, extraordinary times together, and may it continue,” she said. “Thank you for being the reason why I am on this stage, from the very first day of my career until tonight. I love you with all of my heart.”
Later, accepting Artist of the Year, Swift took time to talk about the last year’s trials and tribulations: from the creation and release of her recent studio album Lover and the controversy surrounding her feud with music manager Scooter Braun and former label Big Machine. But Swift kept her speech positive. “Just the fact that the last year of my life has had some of the most amazing times and also some of just the hardest things I’ve gone through in my life, and not a lot of them are things that haven’t been public,” she said, “and I wanted to thank you for so much for being the thing that has been a constant in my life.”
Earlier in the night, Swift took the audience on a ride, performing a career-spanning set that, at one point in the lead-up to the show, seemed like it might not happen at all. But when it did, it really did — and even featured guest appearances by pals Camila Cabello and Halsey. She played songs like “Shake It Off,” “Love Story,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and more.
Take a look at her speeches and performance up above.