News of Whitney Houston's death broke just hours before Ne-Yo's fourth annual Midnight Brunch at the Supper Club in Hollywood, Calif. on Saturday night, so needless to say a somber mood was cast over the event.
The singer/songwriter commemorated the life of the six-time Grammy winner, saying that the death of the iconic chanteuse was not a time for mourning but for celebrating life.
"The wonderful thing about Whitney Houston was she was the kind of person that you could not keep down," Ne-Yo told Billboard. "She went through bumps and bruises in her career, in her life, whatever the case may be. That's human, everybody goes through it, but it's not about the fall -- it's about the get back up. That's what Whitney Houston was about, the get-back-up. So even in this situation she wouldn't want us to be sad right now, she would want us to celebrate the great thing that her life was as well, as opposed to mourning her death."
Houston's life and subsequent death elicited emotional reactions from celebrity party-goers including Amerie, will.i.am, Carmen Electra, and the night's performers Marsha Ambrosius, and Miguel, who praised the 48-year-old while taking the stage to perform a small set of his hits. "We are celebrating the life and legacy of Whitney Houston," he told the crowd. "Even though it's tragic, while we're here in this room, we're going to celebrate."
In contrast, singer Estelle was visibly upset by the news of Houston's passing and refused to comment on the situation, while will.i.am, openly expressed his sorrow. "I'm sad, she was a friend," he said.
A host of guests including Shaggy, director Chris Robinson, and Best New Artist Grammy nominee, J.Cole, opted to skip the red carpet and go straight inside, but were seen moving to Houston's songs "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "How Will I Know," and her most recent hit "Million Dollar Bill," which rang through the speakers, as party-goers cheered and did their best to mimic the powerful voice of the New Jersey native.
The night also marked the launch of Ne-Yo's signature Malibu Red drink, a 70 proof blend of Caribbean coconut rum and silver tequila. Over the last four years the 32-year-old has amassed a reputation for throwing one of the biggest Grammy bashes held during the week leading up to music's biggest night, and was also excited about his newly announced position with Motown Records.
As previously reported by Billboard, Ne-Yo joined the label both as an artist and Senior VP of A&R where he will develop new and existing talent under the Motown umbrella and with his Compound Records imprint.
"The whole plan is to revitalize it [Motown], to take it back to it's original glory. There was a time when everything that came out of Motown was the best you ever heard in your life. Very big shoes to fill, a very very large goal to obtain but I feel with the team that we put together, we can get it back there. It's not about R&B music, pop music, whatever, it's just about good music period, that's the aim."