US star Cher has urged those with a dream to never give it up – “no matter what happens”.

The 77-year-old was presented with the icon award at the iHeartRadio Awards from Hollywood actress Meryl Streep, after Jennifer Hudson performed a musical tribute to her 1989 hit If I Could Turn Back Time.

Cher later took to the stage to perform her remastered hit Believe, which saw singer Hudson duet, before making a speech on-stage.

2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards – Show
Cher accepts the Icon Award from presenter Meryl Streep during the iHeartRadio Music Awards (Chris Pizzello/AP)

“When I was young, there was nothing about me that yelled Cher, so it was about having a dream, and I got this dream when I was five years old,” she said.

“First I went to see Dumbo and asked my mum if I could be him and mum said ‘no, he is a cartoon’. And then I saw Cinderella, so I said ‘mum, can I be Cinderella’ and she said ‘maybe someday’.

“I want to tell you this because I don’t usually talk about it, but I have been down and out so many times that you cannot believe it – dropped by record companies and couldn’t get a job.

“At that time I went to Las Vegas, which they called the elephant’s graveyard, and I had a huge show, lots of people… and they just said ‘Oh god, she’s so over’.

“But I never gave up my dream. I love standing on this stage and this is kind of my dream, and I stand there and the music plays and out of my body comes this voice and people seem to like it.

“So what I want to tell you from my experience is, have a dream and then don’t give it up no matter what happens, because I know from my own experience that if you have a dream and you stick with it, you will have a wonderful life and it probably will come true.”

2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards – Press Room
Cher poses in the press room at the iHeartRadio Music Awards (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Cher also joked that she had re-worn the same trousers over the past four decades years, adding: “I thought we should come here and accept this award together.”

Her appearance came after actress Streep, who co-starred in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again alongside Cher, appeared on-stage to introduce her.

The 74-year-old recalled being 14 years old and walking two miles home from school every day, with Cher’s hit I Got You Babe playing in her head on a loop.

“The girl who sang on that record I found out, Cher, was 17 years old, which I thought was really old. She could have been a senior – now we both are seniors,” she joked.

“Zoom ahead to this past Christmas, that girl Cher, has another number one hit, DJ Play A Christmas Song. She’s 77 years old and that doesn’t actually feel that old to me now.

“You know that Cher has had a number one record in every one of the last seven decades. She’s the only woman in US history to have done that. What does it take to have those kind of legs.

“It’s not 15 minutes of fame anymore, you’re lucky if you get seven seconds of somebody’s fractured attention, let alone seven decades.

“It takes talent, but more than that, I think it takes heart. When I think of Cher, I think of her giant heart – how open it is, how battered it is, and how strong it is.”

Streep said she first met Cher 40 years ago “when we made a film about an activist called Silkwood”, where Streep played Karen Silkwood and Cher starred as Dolly Pelliker.