The night began with a rare sight – tennis champion Serena Williams was flustered.
“I’m a little nervous, I can’t breathe,” she said through an exasperated smile. “I’m usually really good at this.”
The overwhelming task was not opening the famed Clive Davis pre-Grammys gala at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, it was introducing its opening act, one of her favourite groups, Green Day.
An enthusiasm for music fuelled the night, but it was a concluding performance by Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder that really stole the show.
“Music is love,” Wonder told the crowd before launching into a singalong of Warwick’s What The World Needs Now.
Knight first emerged to sing The Way We Were/Try to Remember, before being joined by Warwick for That’s What Friends Are For, which Wonder closed with a harmonica solo.
About an hour earlier, Jon Platt, Sony Music Publishing chairman and chief executive, was given the 2024 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award at the star-studded event, and used his speech to remind guest “it always takes a village” to move the needle in the music industry.
“No-one does it alone,” he said.
Platt has been celebrated for improving the ways in which hip-hop and R&B artists are compensated as songwriters, working with Usher, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Drake, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams.
Davis, chief creative officer of Sony, kicked off his pre-Grammy party in 1976 to celebrate Barry Manilow’s Mandy, which became Arista Records’ first Grammy record of the year nominee.
Admittance to Davis’ event is notoriously challenging to receive.
This year the A-listers who made the cut included Smokey Robinson, Meryl Streep, Babyface, Jon Bon Jovi, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Gayle King, Ted Danson, Shania Twain, Diane Warren, Cameron Crowe, Sammy Hagar, Cher, Jack Antonoff, Gloria Esteban, Busta Rhymes, Megan Thee Stallion, Peso Pluma, Tyla, David Foster and Mark Ronson.
When it came time to introduce Clive Davis to the stage, actor Tom Hanks did the honours.
“Why are we here? Clive Davis, Clive Davis, Clive Davis,” he told the cheering crowd.
“Clive Davis is the chef, in the kitchen, of the food of love of music, music, music. And he’s the host of this , the most bitchin’ party in the year.”
The event included many performances from a diverse range of talent including Maluma, The Isley Brothers taking it back to 1959 with Shout, and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt tackling I’m Just Ken, with country singer Lainey Wilson taking the place of actor Ryan Gosling.
“We concentrate on the pure celebration of music,” Davis said at the start of the night, and by the end, that was evident.