Usually, Clive Davis presides over his legendary annual pre-Grammy gala from the stage of the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom before a carefully curated audience of big-name artists, celebrities and politicians.
This year, there will be no shortage of superstars, including Bruce Springsteen, Barry Gibb and Alicia Keys, but the party will be virtual, and the Sony Music Entertainment chief creative officer will host from sunny Miami for the Saturday celebration.
Davis tells Billboard plans for the Jan. 30 event were already underway when the Recording Academy decided this month to reschedule the Grammy Awards from Jan. 31 to March 14 due to the pandemic, so he simply decided to honor the original date and then hold a second event on the party’s traditional evening before the Grammy Awards.
“When the Grammys moved to March 14, I had so many wonderful artists already set to join me on 30th and rather than getting into schedules, I decided to keep it Jan. 30, but also do our traditional night before the Grammys on March 13,” Davis says.
The annual party has been billed as the Recording Academy & Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala for the last several years. Davis is the sole host for both events this year, but he does so with the Recording Academy’s blessing, since, for the first time, the evenings are now fundraisers that benefit Recording Academy causes. “We are grateful that he has found a way to support MusiCares on Jan. 30 and the Grammy Museum on March 13 by making them the financial beneficiaries of the respective nights,” says Recording Academy COO Branden Chapman.
The Recording Academy still plans to host its own MusiCares event in its usual spot — two nights before the Grammy Awards — on March 12 and will reveal more details shortly.
Davis is also changing the format for Saturday’s event. There will be a few live performances — Davis is keeping those names secret until the event — but the bulk of the party, which he expects to last up to four hours, will include him interviewing the aforementioned artists, as well as Rod Stewart, Sean Combs, Jamie Foxx, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, Jennifer Hudson and John Legend. A number of the interviews will be live, while a portion will be pre-taped a day or two before the event for technical reasons.
Additionally, Davis will showcase what he considers the best live appearances ever. “I’ve spent the past two months reviewing what I think are really unparalleled stellar performances from the greatest artists of all time,” he says. “It’s jaw-dropping, even if you’ve seen a few of them before. It’s an electrifying experience.”
Those who have attended in the past know part of the fun is looking across the room and spotting anyone from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (who has already RSVP’d yes, as have Cher, Quincy Jones and Megan Thee Stallion) to other luminaries like Sylvester Stallone or Ringo Starr. While Davis didn’t give details, he said non-famous attendees can wear their comfortable clothes, but A-list names may want to make sure they are camera-ready.
The format for the March 13 gala will be the same as for the Jan. 30 event, Davis says, with a number of artists — including Carlos Santana, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon — already committed to appear.
The goal for both evenings is the same: “We are here to celebrate music and hopefully we raise a ton of money,” he says. “Our hearts are in the right place, the cause is great and the time is right.”