I'm currently at Clive Davis' annual Pre-GRAMMY Gala at The Beverly Hilton where the news just broke that Whitney Houston has passed. It's a devastating loss. No words can describe the lasting contribution she has made to popular music and the music community at large. Her rich and timeless body of work that includes chart-topping singles, albums, videos and movies will be an inspiration to people forever.
On the Red Carpet today, every single artist mentioned how Whitney Houston has influenced them, and how her success and artistry motivated them to sing, perform and be the best they can be. It's a legacy that no one can ever take away from Houston and which may be one of the biggest contributions she shared with the world.
The Pre-GRAMMY Gala is orginally produced to be a party where Hollywood celebrities mingle with music's A-listers to have an intimate get-together on the eve of The GRAMMY Awards. But tonight, the Pre-GRAMMY Gala is a tribute to the life and legacy of Whitney Houston. Tony Bennett and Diana Krall opened the show to set a sobering mood for the night.
Clive Davis, who signed Whitney Houston and mentored her throughout her career, opened his annual event saying that he is "personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years." He continues, "Whitney Houston was full of life and she was looking forward to tonight." Whitney Houston was scheduled to be Clive Davis' date tonight and walk the Red Carpet with him.
After the performance of Diana Krall and Tony Bennett, Diddy hit the podium as well and spoke candidly about his personal relationship with Whitney Houston. He says, "She always hit you with such positive energy and a big smile (. . .) She was not a hater, but a congratulator." Diddy also highlighted her one of a kind vocal abilities. "When Whitney sang, it was like magic."
Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy, explains that Whitney would have wanted "the show to go on," and announces that tomorrow's GRAMMY Awards will include a fitting tribute to the pop icon. We have a "nimble A-class team" at The GRAMMYs who will make the production changes needed. Portnow officially announces that Jennifer Hudson will perform a special tribute to Whitney Houston at The GRAMMYs tomorrow.
Ne-Yo told me a little earlier tonight that he worked with Houston on a track for her most recent LP. He says, "She was in a really good place. She wanted to make a song about being happy. Just that." Unfortunately, they never got to finish it together.
[Update 11:25 pm] Alicia Keys takes the stage to perform "Empire State Of Mind," and tells the crowd that she used to dance to "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" as a little girl in front of the mirror. She has a lot of Whitney Houston memories.
[Update 12:15 am] Jessie J just performed "Who You Are" and broke into tears. "Whitney has been my biggest inspiration. She made me who I am," she explains.
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