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Saturday night marked the Recording Academy’s second year co-hosting Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hilton. In its more than 30-year history, the event has grown a reputation as one of Grammy week’s hottest parties, largely due to Davis’s ability to attract big-name guests and performers. This year was no different, with artists like Barbra Streisand and Smokey Robinson attending, and Carrie Underwood and the Black Eyed Peas taking the stage.
The academy first approached Davis about jointly producing the event last year, when it selected him as the recipient of its annual President’s Merit award. Bypassing the traditional award ceremony, which usually took place at the Staples Center immediately following the Grammy ceremony, the academy spoke with Davis about the possibility of partnering with him on the pre-Grammy gala and presenting the award there.
“The timing was right,” said Branden Chapman, the Recording Academy’s vice president of production and process management. “We realized we had similar visions and that we both really wanted to highlight music and its makers.”
According to Chapman, the Recording Academy was also interested in “owning” Grammy week. Associating itself with one of the biggest events leading up to the award show was key to achieving that goal. In addition to its official status as co-host, the academy made its presence felt at Saturday’s pre-Grammy bash by again incorporating the presentation of its President’s Merit award into the event. A video tribute highlighted recipient Doug Morris’s contributions to the music industry, and Mary J. Blige sang a set in his honor.
Guests dined on artichoke salads and chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and goat cheese as Blige and other artists, including Harry Connick, Jr., Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Kesha, Maxwell, Carlos Santana, Slash, T-Pain, and Rob Thomas performed. Azure tablecloths, as well as honey and pink floral arrangements decorated dining tables.
Stage decor was minimal, with a live band taking up most available space. “We didn’t want to build the stage out in order to maximize the number of guests,” Chapman said. Close to 950 people attended, but many more tried to get a coveted spot on the guest list.