Brandi Carlile earned the Trailblazer Award at Thursday night's (Dec. 12) Billboard Women in Music event, a night dedicated to honoring the industry's female power players and rising stars. The singer-songwriter's heartfelt, off-the-cuff speech (she couldn't see the teleprompter!) focused on the need to normalize lifting women up and celebrating their accomplishments.

"It changes the course of history," Carlile explained of events such as the Billboard Women in Music event, "because history's full of accolades and awards for men ... but when we do something like we're doing tonight, repeatedly, habitually, eventually it sticks. People start listening. Honoring women becomes the norm, which is what I know we're all looking for in the end, and it becomes history and changes the course of history."

Women are half of the world's population, of course -- or, as Carlile eloquently put it, women "hold up half the sky. We tell the story of the other half of the human race" -- and it's Carlile's belief that "educating and empowering women" can solve the world's problems.

"If we're allowed to speak and lead, we can help alleviate these problems fundamentally," she explained, "and that's why what we're saying tonight matters so much ... and that's why women have to have a voice at radio, they have to have a voice that can get to the general public."

During 2019 -- and during her career in general -- Carlile has made equality her mission. The Grammy Awards winner spent this year in particular creating new music as one-fourth of the Highwomen, a group whose mission is to spotlight and celebrate both female artists and women in general.

Throughout her speech, Carlile touched on her role as a mother to two young daughters who "[were] put here to challenge everything I believed in or thought I could count on, right down to being born to two mothers on Father's Day," and thanked her wife and business team. She also shouted out her collaborators, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, who have been "backing up a woman with a dream long before anyone was talking about it."

"I am a lesbian redneck that literally lives to make actual trails in the woods with my 4-wheeler," Carlile concluded, "and to be called a trailblazer is quite fitting."

LOOK: See Brandi Carlile at the 2019 Billboard Women in Music Event