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Beyonce wins four Billboard awards

R. Kelly also nets four, 50 Cent named best artist
/ Source: The Associated Press

R&B and hip-hop dominated Wednesday’s 2003 Billboard Music Awards with sultry singer Beyonce and R. Kelly each earning four awards.

Beyonce, who appeared at the ceremony in a sequined Versace dress, won new female artist of the year, new R&B artist, Hot 100 female artist and a special Hot 100 award for most weeks at No. 1.

The singer, who is part of Destiny’s Child and went solo this year with her album “Dangerously in Love,” told reporters before the show that she was nervous about the possibility of making an acceptance speech.

“I don’t know what to say. I completely blank out,” she said.

In the end, she told the crowd after winning the Hot 100 female artist award: “This is amazing. This has been an incredible year.”

R. Kelly, who was indicted on child pornography charges last year after a videotape allegedly showed him having sex with an underage girl, took home awards for Hot 100 producer, R&B producer, Hot 100 songwriter and R&B songwriter.

No Doubt opened the nationally televised show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest of “American Idol,” with a performance of their hit single “It’s My Life.”

“Tonight is truly one of the biggest nights of the year. Beyonce is here. OutKast is here. Courtney Love thinks she’s here,” Seacrest told the audience.

Singers Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, featured on the MTV reality show “Newlyweds,” presented the first award for duo/group of the year to 3 Doors Down.

In presenting the award, Simpson turned to her husband and said, “Don’t say anything dipsy or stupid. I keep telling myself the sex is worth it.”

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog provided additional comic relief, saying he and Michael Jackson had a lot in common: “We’re both partly made of rubber.”

Rapper 50 Cent had a leading six nominations heading into the show at the MGM Grand hotel-casino. By the end of the night, he won three awards — for top artist, R&B artist and rap artist.

Stevie Wonder presented Sting with the Century Award for creative achievement. The Grammy Award-winning singer has sold 100 million albums and singles with The Police and as a solo artist.

“You can sing for millions of people in your career or maybe just one. You can sell millions of records or none at all. ... It doesn’t really matter,” Sting said. “If you play music with passion and love and honesty, then it will nourish your soul, heal your wounds and make your life worth living.

For the first time, the Billboard Awards recognized the sales of legally downloaded music tracks, honoring “Hey Ya!” by OutKast as the digital track of the year.

The Hilton sisters walked the red carpet, but did not speak with reporters. Paris Hilton, co-star of the hit show “The Simple Life,” wore a satin and lace Valentino two-piece dress. Among those drawing the loudest cheers from the hundreds of fans gathered to watch the arrivals was the cast of Fox’s “The O.C.”

The Billboard Awards honor the year’s chart-topping artists. Winners are determined by the magazine’s year-end chart listings, which are based on record sales and airplay.