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Video: Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala Filled With Moving Tributes, Performances

This year’s Pre-Grammy Gala ran long. And it was packed to the rafters with the check-in line snaking all the way down the hall to the meetings rooms at the rear of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. But it was well worth the wait.

Presented by Clive Davis and the Recording Academy, the ninth Pre-Grammy Gala guests heard moving tributes to the evening’s special honoree, Epic chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid and were treated to a series of knockout performances by Patti Smith, the Lumineers, Usher, Miguel, Emeli Sande and capped by a duet featuring Jennifer Hudson and the legendary Gladys Knight.

The night kicked off with a welcome from Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow. He presented a short video clip showing Davis being presented with Billboard’s first musical visionary award during the magazine’s inaugural Power 100 reception on Thursday evening (Feb. 7). Introduced by CBS chairman/CEO Leslie Moonves, Clive Davis kicked off the proceedings with EDM guru Afrojack.

Over the next two and a half hours, a diverse lineup of talent fired up the stage, from Patti Smith (“This is my first Grammy anything appearance”) and Emeli Sande (who drew a standing ovation from Joni Mitchell) to Grammy nominees the Lumineers (“We didn’t expect to be here”) and Miguel. Acknowledging the upcoming one-year anniversary of Whitney Houston’s death, Davis introduced a video clip of Houston singing “All the Man That I Need” during a concert for soldiers.

Longtime friend/creative and business partner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds recalled to audience laughter that when he first met Reid, the latter was wearing spandex pants. “But he had a dream early on about wanting ‘to create a Motown of the South,’ ” said Babyface of the inspiration behind the pair’s storied label La Face.

Then he brought out the “baby” of La Face, Usher. In between sharing special memories, a dynamic Usher sang snippets of songs tied to the La Face era, including “Every Time I Close My Eyes” and “U Got It Bad.” He also thanked Reid for not letting him become known by his original stage name, Cha Cha.

Read more: Billboard

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