On the eve of Music’s Biggest Night, Clive Davis hosted his prestigious annual gala, where JAY-Z was celebrated with the Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award.
Held at the Sheraton New York Times Square, the extravagant soirée was attended by some of music’s biggest stars, including Hov and his wife Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Quincy Jones, Cardi B, Diddy, Cassie, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Sting, Jennifer Hudson, Rita Ora, and many more.
During his speech, Hov opened up about boycotting the 1999 Grammys after his sophomore album Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life was snubbed.
“I didn’t come back until… 2004 when a beautiful, young lady whom I love dearly had a solo album… the beautiful Miss Beyoncé,” said the 21-time Grammy winner, who’s been nominated 74 times. “I realized, ‘Man, art is super subjective and everyone is doing their best, and the Academy, they’re human like we are and they’re voting on things they like and it’s subjective.’”
He went on to say that he believes in the Grammys despite those past doubts. “If we believe in it — ’cause we do, we can pretend that we don’t care but we really care — we care ’cause we’ve seen the most incredible artists stand on that stage and we’re inspired to be that, so I was like, ‘I have to be here,’” he continued. “That is the idea for all of us to get involved and to push this thing further no matter what happens at the Grammys, it’s going to be what it is. Bob Marley is going to be Bob Marley, whether he’s nominated for a Grammy or not. Tupac is going to be Tupac, Biggie is going to be Biggie.”
The event was filled with many special moments, including a standing ovation for Queen Bey, after Clive Davis called her “the first lady of music.” Alicia Keys also performed a tribute to JAY-Z from behind her piano, running through renditions of classic Hov tracks, including their “Empire State of Mind” collaboration.
Even beyond the Hov tribute, hip-hop was in the house, thanks to Migos, who performed “Bad and Boujee,” and Logic who closed the show with the Alessia Cara-assisted “1-800-273-8255.” Other stars who graced the stage included Jennifer Hudson, who paid tribute to Aretha Franklin, Luis Fonsi, who sang “Despacito,” and Gladys Knight, who performed “Stand By Me” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
The evening was a warm-up for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, which will air live from Madison Square Garden in New York at 7:30 p.m. on CBS.