HAS Clive Davis» and the Recording Academy’s annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday night (February 3), two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks proved to be an incredibly effective hype man. The actor delivered a six-minute introduction to the legendary record producer, listing more than 50 artists that Davis discovered or worked with, concluding with slight irony that “the only reason the names Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky were not mentioned is because they all died before Clive Davis graduated from Harvard [and] before having an office and a telephone at Columbia Records.
Davis arrived on stage at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, to thunderous applause as he once again pledged to deliver an unforgettable evening, as he has since the party began there 48 years ago.
“So this evening is really, really special for me and I hope for all of you,” Davis said. “I look among you and I see so many familiar faces. You know, it all started a long time ago, in 1976, and I really have to pinch myself because it’s still going strong. I mean, the demand this year has been just incredible. I’m happy to say that music is alive and well and you’re all seeing the best of what’s new tonight, as well as the best of these artists who are inspiring us all with the truly electrifying length of their careers.
As usual, the room included some of the world’s biggest stars, including Cher, Mariah Carey and Meryl Streep (seated with her daughter Grace Gummer and Gummer’s husband, producer Mark Ronson), as well as Lenny Kravitz, Serena Williams , Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson; Scottie Pippen, Cameron Crowe, Peter Asher, Gayle King, Max Martin, Shania Twain, Adrian Brody, Jon Bon Jovi, Paris Hilton, Smokey Robinson and, present for the 24th consecutive year, Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat of California) and her husband, Paul.
But the brightest stars were on stage as an incredibly diverse roster of artists performed. Green Day, hosted by Williams, who called himself the group’s “mascot,” opened the evening with exhilarating performances of “American Idiot” and “Basket Case.”
Then, in a delightful genre twist, Ronson and co-writer Andrew Wyatt were joined by Lainey Wilson replacing Ryan Gosling, for a pitch-perfect version of “I’m Just Ken,” from Barbie. Ronson, a Grammy and Oscar nominee, joked that he was entering awards season with some advice from the song about “the beauty of being a finalist, a lesson I’ll try to remember tomorrow night.” [at the Grammys].” (He’s already come out on top with the song triumphing as Best Song at the Critics Choice Awards in January).
As promised, the evening focused heavily on developing acts, all nominees for Best New Artist this year, who have broken through with breakthrough songs over the past few months. Ice Spice sassily strutted across the stage during “Deli,” while Noah Kahan introduced himself as “Mumford’s son,” a fitting description for his folk sound, as he delivered renditions strong and melodious “Stick Season” and “Dial Drunk”. (His banjo performance begs him to tour with Mumford & Sons as part of a strong double bill). Victoria Monét, who is up for seven Grammys on Sunday (February 4), danced to an energetic “On My Mama.”
But these were two other Best New Artist nominees who turned in truly stellar turns. After Josh Groban’s moving interpretation, beautiful versions of two Stephen Sondheim numbers chosen by Davis — In the woods“ “The children will listen” and Sweeney ToddThe Tony-nominated artist’s “Not While I’m Around” was joined by Michael Trotter, one half of the best new artist duo nominee, The War and Treaty, for a version soaring and breathtaking performance of “Bridge” by Simon & Garfunkel. Over Troubled Water,” with Trotter’s unwavering falsetto bringing the audience to their feet.
Although the Groban/Trotter duet would have seemed impossible to follow, Jelly Roll took the crowd to church with two songs about his desperate search for redemption as he delivered steamy, pleading versions of “Need a Favor”, performed with a full chorus, and “Save Me”, accompanied by Wilson.
Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing Jon Platt was recognized as a 2024 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons winner. Celebrated by energetic, crowd-pleasing performances from Public Enemy and the Isley Brothers, two groups that had played pivotal roles early in his career, Platt took the stage shortly after midnight to receive your prize. In a speech that lasted more than 30 minutes during which the fire alarm went off not once, but twice, Platt recalled a number of highlights from his illustrious career, calling the evening’s honor a closing the loop. In 1998, Platt attended his first pre-Grammy Davis gala, then held at the Beverly Hills Hotel. There, he met the late former Motown Chairman and CEO Jheryl Busby.
“He said, ‘Someone asked me, who do I see in the industry today who can achieve the things I’ve accomplished?’ …I told them Big Jon could handle anything one day,” Platt said. Busby’s words changed his life. “For someone to share the belief they have in you is powerful, it’s incredibly powerful. And from that day on, I kind of changed my direction. After that, I had a goal, because this guy told me that I could handle anything. So, I just changed my direction. way of acting, changing the people I had around me, the people I was with, so on. Everything had a great intention. And so, to be here tonight and receive the icon of the industry is an incredible full circle moment that I’m quite proud of.
In an extraordinary moment, Platt took the time to acknowledge the rivalry between himself and his former colleague at EMI Music Publishing. Jody Gerson, who is now CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group. “People think Jody and I have a complicated relationship. We do it because we are both intense competitors,” he said. “We are competing incredibly hard. Beyond this competition, there is this deep love and respect that we have for each other. I mean, you have to respect your competition, but it goes deeper than that between me and Jody. Like I had incredible respect for her. And Jody was the person who hired me at EMI, so in many ways she changed my life. And people always like to say that when you achieve these things and you say how you did it, “Well, you would have done it anyway.” Maybe not. The only thing you can do is focus on how it happened. And that’s how it happened. All I’m telling you is how it happened. So, I appreciate you Jody and I really hope Marty [Bandier, former CEO/chairman of EMI Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Music Publishing] is proud of the legacy we leave.
As the clock approached one a.m., the final artists took the stage to an appreciative audience as Colombian superstar Maluma sang a high-energy “Hawaii” and the iconic Gladys Knight performed “The Way We Were ”, a song that Knight and The Pips performed. No. 11 almost 50 years ago, in 1975. She was later joined by Dionne Warwick – half of the team that recorded the 1985 charity juggernaut, “That’s What Friends Were For” – with Andra Day and Keyshia Cole joining in. The crowd burst into applause. when Stevie Wonder, who also appeared on the original song, played his instantly recognizable harmonica solo. Even though it was supposed to be the final number, Wonder led the band in “What the World Needs Now Is Love” to take the audience to a rainy Los Angeles night.
The setlist of Clive Davis and the Recording Academy’s 2024 pre-Grammy party:
Green Day—“American Idiot,” “Basket Case”
Mark Ronson — “I’m Just Ken” with Lainey Wilson and Andrew Wyatt
Frozen Spice — “Deli”
Noah Kahan – “Stick Season”, “Dial Drunk”
Victoria Monét – “On my mom”
Josh Groban — Sondheim Medley featuring “The Children Will Listen” and “Not While I’m Here”
Josh Groban and Michael Trotter Jr. — “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”
Jelly Roll — “Need a Favor,” “Save Me” featuring Lainey Wilson
Public Enemy — “Can’t Make It Secure,” “Bring the Noise,” “Fight the Power”
Isley Brothers – “Scream”
Maluma — “Hawaii”
Gladys Knight – “The Way We Were”
Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Andra Day and Keyshia Cole: “That’s What Friends Are For,” “What the World Needs Now is Love”