Rapper Cardi B says all she’s thinking about is winning an award at the Grammys, and looks forward to performing. (Jan. 27)
NEW YORK — There’s no hotter place to be on Grammys Eve than a Clive Davis party.
The legendary record mogul threw his annual pre-awards gala Saturday night at the Sheraton New York Times Square, a seemingly roomier venue than the party’s usual West Coast digs at the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel.
And with the bigger space came bigger names, as music titans including Barry Manilow, Gladys Knight and Quincy Jones rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart, Tina Fey and Nancy Pelosi. Survey the room, and you might’ve caught Chrissy Teigen stopping to chat up Rita Ora as they pushed through the crowds; Nick Jonas posing for selfies with fans before he beelined for the bathroom; and Priyanka Chopra huddled by a table with Jennifer Hudson, who moments later, animatedly sang along to Zedd and Alessia Cara’s Stay.
But the night’s biggest star was undoubtedly Jay-Z, who is up for eight Grammy Awards at Sunday’s ceremony, and was feted with an Industry Icons honor at Davis’ bash. More on that, and other moments you need to know:
Hova hasn’t always had the warmest relationship with the Recording Academy, having boycotted the ceremony for six straight years starting in 1999 because DMX and other hip-hop artists were snubbed. In fact, he didn’t return until 2004, “when a beautiful young lady whom I love dearly” was nominated for their collaboration Crazy in Love: “the beautiful Ms. Beyoncé,” Jay-Z said, motioning to his wife as the audience cheered.
Since then, the 4:44 rapper has come to realize that “art is super subjective and everyone’s doing their best,” he continued, calling for a continued push to diversify the nominees. “The academy, they’re human like we are and voting on things that they like. We can pretend that we don’t care, but we do, because we see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and aspire to do that. So I was like, ‘I have to be here.’ That’s the whole idea: for all of us to get involved and to push this thing further.”
Despite our best hopes, Queen Bey did not bless partygoers with a performance. But all eyes were still glued to the beret-clad diva, whom Davis spotlighted at the top of the night. He recalled the first time he saw her at his pre-Grammys soirée as a member of Destiny’s Child: “Even then, she knew the lyrics of every song. I knew that her awareness of music was intense and deep within.”
After listing off her remarkable feats including 62 Grammy nominations (the most of any female artist in history), Davis declared her the “first lady of music,” which garnered a standing ovation as the camera turned on a smiling Beyoncé.
Veteran artists and newcomers took the stage for performances throughout the two-hour dinner, with highlights including a spirited solo take on record- and song-of-the-year nominee Despacito by Luis Fonsi, and a rousing Waving Through a Window by Dear Evan Hansen Tony winner Ben Platt (who was seated with his BFF Beanie Feldstein, of Lady Bird fame).
The most stage time was allotted to Alicia Keys, who ran through roughly a dozen of Jay-Z’s hits in a career-spanning tribute to her Empire State of Mind collaborator. Backed only by her piano, her soulful, slowed-down set list included favorites such as Run This Town, Hard Knock Life, U Don’t Know and Encore.
The Bodak Yellow rapper, who is vying for two Grammys Sunday, brought her infectious presence to Davis’ gala, where she bashfully buried her head in her hands when he introduced her to the crowd. But the biggest “aw” moments were courtesy of her fiancé, Migos member Offset, whose performance of Bad and Boujee she playfully danced to and filmed on her smartphone. Afterward, the besotted couple posed for pictures together in the lobby.
While posing with her husband, multi-Grammy award winner John Legend, and president of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, on the red carpet Chrissy Teigen gave us insight as to what was on her mind. She asked if she and her crooning hubby were late to the event and seemingly more importantly if they’d arrived after dinner. “Did we miss the food?” the cookbook author asked. Teigen revealed she was eating for two in November, when she announced on Instagram that she and Legend were expecting their second child.
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