Cher honored as an Icon at 2017 Billboard Music Awards, delivers epic performance of 'Believe'

Pop superstar Cher was honored with the coveted Icon Award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, and the celebrated singer demonstrated exactly why she's deserved the honor with a live performance of her mega-hit "Believe."

Gwen Stefani introduced Cher, who kicked things off with a wild performance of her hit song, rocking a skin-toned bodysuit and diamond-encrusted silver beaded strands that gave her a racy, almost nude appearance as she belted out the tune.

After a short video commemorating her legacy, Cher returned to the stage in her iconic black leather outfit with a towering, curly black wig to deliver a follow-up performance of her 1989 hit "If I Could Turn Back Time."

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"I've wanted to do what I do since I was four years old, and I've been doing it for 53 years," Cher said in her acceptance speech. "I want to thank my mom, because when I was young my mom said, 'You're not gonna be the smartest, you're not gonna be the prettiest, you're not gonna be the most talented. But you're gonna be special. "

"Then, when I met Sonny [Bono], he said the same thing. And there was really nothing about me that really lead anyone to believe that I was going to be special," she continued, laughing.

"I think luck has so much to do with my success," she added. "I think it was mostly lucky and a little bit of something thrown in."

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Cher, who has been performing for over six decades, was the first artist to see one of her songs reach the top spot on a Billboard chart in every decade from the 1960s all the way to the 2010s.

The 71-year-old music legend released her hit single "Believe" in 1998, on her 22nd studio album of the same name. The song was a worldwide hit and, with over 11 million copies sold, is one of the highest-selling singles of all time.

In a statement released days before the show, Cher said she's "honored to receive the [Icon Award] and take the stage to celebrate my love of music with my fans."

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"Seeing so many powerful artists, especially female artists, emerge and take their place in history through the years has been incredible," she continued. "I'm honored to be amongst the previous Icon Award winners."

Previous winners of the award, which was introduced in 2011, include Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion -- who also appeared onstage at this year's show with a rousing performance of her 1997 hit "My Heart Will Go On."

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Despite her wildly successful career, Cher recently sat down with Billboard Magazine where she revealed she's "not a Cher fan."

Cher revealed that she's somewhat ashamed of her early hits, like "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady," and admitted that she actually hates "Believe." She said recording the song was a "nightmare," and recalled how she eventually stormed out of the studio, which is the reason for her heavily Auto-Tuned vocals.

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