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Pre-Grammy gala celebrates Whitney Houston’s life
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - It was a surreal scene: Whitney Houston had died at the Beverly Hilton, and hours later and a few floors below, her life was being celebrated at the event where her career was launched.
On Saturday night, Clive Davis _ Houston’s mentor, producer, champion and longtime friend _ memorialized her at his pre-Grammy gala, held downstairs in the same hotel where her body was being examined by coroner’s officials.
Ray Davies and Elvis Costello took to the stage to perform as Los Angeles county coroner’s Capt. John Kades arrived at the hotel. Alicia Keys arrived earlier and embraced Davis as he prepared for the show under extreme duress.
With celebrities including Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson in attendance, a somber Davis, reading from a sheet of paper, said: “I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me. She was full of life, looking forward for tonight. She loved music and she loved this night that celebrated music.”
He dedicated the evening to her and asked for a moment of silence as a photo of the 48-year-old, hands wide open, looking to the sky, appeared on the screen.
Then, he said with excitement: “Now ladies and gentlemen, let the music begin.”
Bennett, the evening’s first performer, recounted other recent big-name deaths in the music industry.
He added that Houston was “the greatest singer I’ve ever heard in my life.”
The scene was somewhat surreal given Houston’s shocking death only earlier in the day. But Grammy president and CEO Neil Portnow, who called Houston a friend, said “canceling the party was never an option.”
“A lot of us holding hands tonight, on each other’s shoulders … We’ll be celebrating,” he said. “The legacy she left will be here forever.”
Diddy gave his own memories of Houston, recalling her incredible smile and positive spirit. He said when he heard she died, “I was in a state of shock.”
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