BEVERLY HILLS, California — As the highlight reel at the beginning of the night reminded everyone, Clive Davis has consistently pulled off some pretty amazing pre-Grammy parties.
Puff Daddy and the Family, Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Babyface … we could go on for days. As legend has it, Davis’ Pre-Grammy Party is a music-industry institution that is known for not just the stars who attend, but the collaborations between them.
The red carpet really didn’t feel too “pre” last night at the Beverly Hilton. Seeing everyone from Lindsay Lohan and Pink to Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson made it feel like the Grammy Awards. Everyone always comes out for Davis. (Click for photos from the party.)
On Saturday night, as he’s done in recent years for his artists such as Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Mario and the almighty Alicia Keys, he officially introduced British export Leona Lewis to his powerful friends.
After the Foo Fighters performed “The Pretender” and “The Best of You,” Lewis hit the stage. Her stardom here in the U.S. feels like it could be a foregone conclusion. She’s already a superstar overseas and she has everything needed to make it over here: beauty, a powerful industry machine behind her — and the child can sing.
She started with her British hit single “Bleeding Love” and ended with Roberta Flack’s classic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Her rendition was more power-pop ballad than soulful standard, and the audience rewarded her with heavy applause.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” she said onstage. “Big thank you to Clive Davis. … It’s a real honor for me to be singing here and singing for everybody.”
Everybody with a capital “E.” If you weren’t paying attention to who attended, Clive shouted all his guests out from Swizz Beatz and Busta Rhymes to Michael Strahan of the Super Bowl champs New York Giants to Raquel Welch. And, of course, his favorite artist, Bobby Brown’s ex.
“We’re in the studio. Welcome back to music, Whitney Houston!” Davis said. Whitney got a standing ovation from the audience.
When Rod Stewart was introduced, he stood up with a napkin on his head for laughs.
Daughtry performed “It’s Not Over” and brought out Chad Kroeger and Slash for a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born on the Bayou.”
Fantasia momentarily stole the show with a record she performed for so many nights as the lead in the Broadway musical “The Color Purple,” “I’m Here.”
Barefoot and showing off a hairdo that mixed jet black and platinum blonde, ’Tasia showed why she is recognized as one of the best pure singers in the new generation of R&B stars, and why “The Color Purple” sold out so many consecutive nights.
Speaking of great singers, before Alicia Keys’ set, Davis told the audience, “From day one, it was obvious. You don’t talk about hit records, you talk about hall of fame” when it comes to Keys.
Keys started out with “Super Woman” (which was not on the original set list, but she was feeling the moment). “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” followed, and Rihanna was one of the first of many to get up out their seats and dance. For “No One,” Wyclef Jean came out wearing a masquerade mask and helped out on guitar.
’Clef actually closed the night, commencing his set with “President.” “Obama, Hillary Clinton, they got competition/ Wyclef for president,” he rapped.
Akon joined ’Clef minutes later for DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over.” Wyclef then played Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” and traded off hits with ’Kon. The Fugees’ “Ready or Not” came out, as did Akon’s “I Wanna Love You.” During their joint effort “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill),” ’Clef and ’Kon walked into the crowd singing.
To close, Jean made it back to the stage and put some spice on his exit — with a backflip!
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