On ‘Missy Elliott Day,’ hip hop superstar tells joyous Portsmouth crowd she always ‘took Virginia’ with her

Missy was home.And, her hometown came out to celebrate her.

Portsmouth native and hip-hop star Missy Elliott returned to her her alma mater, Manor High School, Monday afternoon for the dedication ceremony of “Missy Elliott Boulevard.

”“757, 804, seven cities, I am so proud to be from Portsmouth, Virginia,” Elliott yelled into the mic to the hundreds of attendees on hand, which included Elliott’s musical collaborators and friends sitting in one of the front rows — Virginia native Pusha T, Trey Songz and Timbaland.

In August, the Portsmouth City Council voted to rename a 1-mile portion of McLean Street in honor of the five-time Grammy winner. Monday’s dedication ceremony featured Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover handing Elliott a key to the city.

The event, which was open to the public, was packed. Held on the Manor High School football field, a line leading into the stadium curved around an adjacent baseball field and double-looped toward the street. An hour before start time, parking anywhere relatively close to the high school was a difficult feat.

When the football field’s seating filled to capacity, would-be spectators began to group together behind the chain-link fence that surrounds the high school’s field. Everybody just wanted to see “Missy.”

What’s up everybody! We’re here to celebrate my dog Missy Elliott!!” hip-hop artist Timbaland called out to the crowd, before taking his seat.

The crowd enthusiastically clapped and cheered back.In addition to fans, state and local politicians also turned out for the event. Gov. Glenn Youngkin publicly pronounced Oct. 17, 2022, as “Missy Elliott Day” in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Elliott didn’t disappoint, entering with flash and pizazz.

The Hampton University marching band, wearing royal blue and white-striped uniforms, welcomed Elliott to the football field. The band, playing loud, marched in behind dancing drum majors and twirling cheerleaders. It marched nearly a full circle around the field before forming two columns — making a runway for Elliott.

Elliott entered in a slow rolling Bentley which she exited, walked down between the drummers and waived to her fellow Portsmouth natives before stepping back and eventually approaching a podium.

Born Melissa Arnette Elliott in 1971, she reminisced to her fans about being told she wouldn’t graduate from Manor High School unless her grades improved, and touched on overcoming that academic obstacle.

But I did walk,” she said, to cheers.Shortly after she graduated, Elliott recalled how she was introduced to Timbaland. The two artists moved to New Jersey and got signed by a record label, but Elliott recalled, “It didn’t work out.

”“I had to come home, and that was the hardest thing for me because I felt like I had disappointed my family,” she continued. “I felt like I had disappointed Virginia. I felt like I had disappointed myself.”

Elliott started to tear while remembering that time in her life — taking a long pause before she began to speak again.

“But I got up,” Elliott said. “I went to New York, and I know it’s a cliché to say ‘never give up’ but I didn’t.”Elliott said that there was one message on her mind that she “wanted people to know.”

“No matter where I went, no matter which state, no matter which country, I took Virginia with me,” she said to standing ovation from the crowd.

“Everything, I’ve learned here — from Portsmouth to the whole VA, I have learned love, loyalty, friends, humility. But don’t let no one run over you, though. We don’t play that,” Elliott continued with a momentary laugh. “Just so much strength and that’s how I ended up here today.”

Annette Carney, who drove from Newport News to see Elliot speak, said she thought “it was a magnificent day.

”“They need to have more of these positive events. From here all the way out to where I live out in Newport News, they need to have more of these events because it will stop so much killing and murdering,” Carney added.Bantha Alston, also from Newport News, said that she thought the dedication ceremony was all around “awesome.”

“I thought it was great for the city to honor her, and I think that they should do things like this often for the people who are from this area,” Alston said

Many of Elliott’s family members were sitting in the front row.

Jerald Epps, Elliott’s first cousin, told The Virginian-Pilot, “We are just so proud of her. We have always been so proud of her.”

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