You could hear a pin drop as Clive Davis took the stage at his and the Recording Academy's annual pre-Grammy gala Saturday night with a moment of silence in honor of Whitney Houston.
"Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on."
• Clive's Full Remarks (BB.Biz)
After the moment of silence Davis declared, "Let the music begin!" Then Tony Bennett took the stage and delivered a powerful reading of "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" and dedicated it to Houston. "I told Clive you finally got the greatest voice I ever heard," Bennett reflected. Next up was Diana Krall accompanying herself on the piano on "If I Had You."
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said there was never the option of canceling the gala. "You could hear Whitney on your shoulder saying the show must go on."
He went on to say that tomorrow's show will feature Jennifer Hudson singing in tribute to Houston.
Before formally introducing Davis and getting the rest of the gala started, Diddy shared his memories of Houston.
"Her beautiful smile, incredible energy and grandma hugs that shook your body ... That made me get dressed; her natural positive spirit. We should celebrate Whitney Houston tonight. Listening to her sing was like a gift from God." He then chanted three times: "Ain't no party like a Clive Davis party." And added, "We're about to start the party in honor of Whitney Houston and Diana Ross" (who was honored earlier in the day with a lifetime achievement award).
Then, the party got underway officially when Davis introduced the Kinks -- joined by Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne -- who tore into a medley of their hits including "Days," "All Day and All of the Night," "Lola" and "You Really Got Me," the latter of which had the audience on its feet singing and dancing along.