The music industry's commitment to City of Hope, the nonprofit devoted to funding biomedical research, education and treatment centers for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, has been unwavering for decades and the 2015 edition of its annual Spirit of Life gala was no exception.
Honoring Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge was a who's who of music biz power players, including the heads of UMG labels Republic Records (Monte and Avery Lipman), Capitol Music Group (Steve Barnett), Interscope-Geffen-A&M (John Janick), Island Records (David Massey) and Def Jam (Steve Bartels) along with publishing arm Universal Music Publishing Group (Jody Gerson).
Among the artists who made appearances at the gala, held at the Santa Monica Civic and hosted by Nick Cannon, were Selena Gomez, will.i.am, Smokey Robinson and Jon Bon Jovi, who sat front and center with new manager Irving Azoff. Sam Smith, who's signed to CMG, was the surprise performer taking the stage for three songs including his hit "Stay With Me."
Others in the crowd to applaud Sprit of Life honoree Grainge included Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Apple's Eddy Cue, Robert Kondryk and Jimmy Iovine (with fiancee Liberty Ross), Netflix's Ted Sarandos and manager Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande).
The event raised over $6 million for City of Hope and featured emotional speeches by Grainge, who thanked Smith for "moving heaven and earth" to attend the function. "You are a real mensch," said Grainge.
In a nod to galas of years past, Azoff invoked music industry veteran Joe Smith's tradition of roasting attendees. A smattering of laughs followed as Azoff poked fun at attorney Joel Katz ("He still wants to be Allen Grubman"), Recording Academy president Neil Portnow ("He'll always be Clive Calder's bagman to me"), Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta ("...outside washing Taylor Swift's car) and Apple's svp of internet software and services Cue ("Be careful, he will try to sell you his record collection").
Grainge brought the event back around to a serious note soon after, however, thanking devoted deputies and his wife and children, whom he described as "my own personal city of hope."