For 37 years Clive Davis, a living legend among music industry executives, has hosted the biggest pre-Grammy Awards party in a sea of events. However, the 2012 pre-Grammy party began under a cloud. Just hours before the celebration was to take place Whitney Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the actual hotel where the pre-Grammy party would unfold. Anxious hours ensued in deciding whether or not the event should be cancelled. In the end, as Clive Davis stated from the podium, "Whitney would have wanted the music to go on." So it did and music began to do one of the things it does best. It began to help family, friends, and colleagues of Whitney Houston heal together.
Performances Of Legends
Although, most of the performances were carried off as planned, it was impossible to ignore the impact of the events of the day. Tony Bennett kicked off the party singing with passion "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" in honor of Whitney Houston. He had been the first to arrive on the red carpet, presumably for last minute rehearsing. He was followed by Diana Krall at the piano. It became clear that living legends of the music industry were in the room when Ray Davies, Jackson Browne, and Elvis Costello took the stage for a medley of songs by the Kinks. Clive Davis stated that since Paul McCartney had been honored the night before, it only made sense to honor the Kinks on this night. Among the songs delivered were "All Day and All Of the Night," "Waterloo Sunset," "Lola," and "You Really Got Me."
In addition to the music, another way we heal following the death of a loved figure is to share our memories associated with them. The Clive Davis pre-Grammy party was filled with memories of the abundant life and energy of Whitney Houston. Multiple guests shared memories as they passed by on the red carpet. In addressing her passing at the party, Grammy president Neil Portnow began, "I start with what happened to me as a person, because Whitney Houston was a friend." Alicia Keys began her performance singing the line, "I wanna dance with somebody!" a capella and then relating her connection with Whitney Houston first as an idol while growing up and later as a friend bonding in sisterhood.
The Clive Davis pre-Grammy party has always provided a showcase for newer artists, and the 2012 event was no different. Two new artists in particular were given the opportunity to shine. Rapper Wiz Khalifa brought the energy of hip hop with a medley of his first hit "Black and Yellow" and the current chart smash "Young, Wild and Free" with featured vocals from Miguel. Then it was Jessie J's turn to sing to the crowd. Clive Davis identified her as a legend in the making, and, fittingly, on this night, she has a powerhouse of a voice that can be stunning. Her current top 10 hit "Domino" was followed by a soaring, impassioned version of "Who You Are" that left many speechless.
Tributes To Richard Branson and Diana Ross
Finally, the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party is also an event designed to honor a music industry icon. In the past, Clive Davis, himself, has been one of the honorees. This year's choice was entrepreneur, daredevil, and billionaire philanthropist Sir Richard Branson. He was feted by Jane Fonda from the podium as film of his past triumphs from Mike Oldfield and the Sex Pistols to the Virgin Music Festival was viewed. In the end, on a night in which the world lost one of the greatest pop music divas, Diana Ross, a woman who can lay rightful claim to being the ultimate and original pop diva, was celebrated just hours after she collected a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. Marsha Ambrosius sang the "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" with power and emotion and then Jamie Foxx kicked off "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Diana Ross' first #1 solo hit, and he brought the diva herself to the stage to sing. Clearly feeling his own personal pain at the loss of Whitney Houston, Clive Davis rose to the occasion to bring his industry together in celebration of the music they make and to begin the healing process in harmony.