Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The 2012 American Music Awards (AMA) celebrated its 40th year this past Sunday night at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. The show, which honored music’s biggest and brightest stars, was officially kick off by Usher, who thrilled the audience with a medley of his hits “Numb,” “Climax,” and “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.”

Young Money rapper Nicki Minaj took an angelic approach to her performance of her new single “Freedom,” complete with a church choir and all white stage and setting.  She also picked up two of the four awards for which she was nominated including Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Album and Favorite Hip Hop Artist. She later returned to perform with Justin Bieber during his performance of “Beauty and the Beat.”

Other show highlights included performances by Swizz Beatz featuring Ludacris and Chris Brown, Pink, Christina Aguilera and a special tribute to AMA icon Dick Clark, performed by the legendary Stevie Wonder.

Click here for a full list of winners.  Also check out a few of the performances and red carpet looks below…

50 Cent, Brandy and Chris Brown

Jordin Sparks, J. Cole and Kelly Rowland

Kerry Washington, Rocsi Diaz and Nicki Minaj

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Photography Credit/Getty Images USA