meta-script10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion | GRAMMY.com
10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion

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Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion

The 2021 GRAMMY Awards show may have been reimagined in comparison to past editions. But that simplicity added elegance and kept the music front and center, from BTS to Cardi B and beyond

GRAMMYs/Mar 15, 2021 - 11:50 pm

Music's Biggest Night more than lived up to that tagline last night at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, broadcast from downtown Los Angeles. An elegantly scaled-back event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRAMMYs still managed to seem as big and celebratory as they've ever been.

From Harry Styles’ delightful opening performance to Cardi B's and Megan Thee Stallion’s captivating combination to South Korea's always-engaging BTS, the GRAMMYs exemplified the special power of music. For a few lively hours, it transported viewers to another plane and provided a reprieve from the pandemic.

Trevor Noah Kept Things Jovial

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The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah was a charming GRAMMYs host. Noah balanced his terrific sense of humor with his deep love of music and appreciation of artistry, keeping the show's tone upbeat and fun after a tough year. Noah said the last year has felt like a decade due to the coronavirus in his opening monologue.Acknowledging our world gone Zoom, Noah joked that the Staples Center behind him was real—not a Zoom background. 

Noah ended his short but sweet opening monologue on a hopeful note. "We're hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, you know," he said. "Full of joy, new beginnings and coming together, never forgetting what happened in 2020, but full of hope for what is to come. So, let's do this, people."

Three Sisters, One Classic Sound

Los Angeles natives HAIM performed their GRAMMY-nominated rock song "The Steps" from their GRAMMY-nominated record Women in Music, Pt. III. Billie Eilish, FINNEAS and Harry Styles looked on and grooved along with the high-energy, lovable sisters.

With Danielle on drums, Este on bass (on her birthday, to boot!), and Alana on guitar, the sisters were effortlessly rock-cool, their voices blending seamlessly. Haim quickly demonstrated their musical versatility, switching it up on the song's second verse, where Danielle took over on guitar and Alana played drums.

Black Pumas Brought The Soul

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated Austin band Black Pumas performed their soulful song "Colors." In a short film introducing the duo, singer Eric Burton recalled moving from New Mexico to Los Angeles in 2014, where he had to take two trains and two buses to busk at the Santa Monica Pier.

Burton said he had a love-hate relationship with street performing. Yet he always performed as if he was on the GRAMMYs stage, which he dreamed about as a little kid. With backup singers, wailing guitars, and smooth vocals, the dynamic performance—replete with a screeching yowl or two—gave the night some essential groove.

Enter DaBaby

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated rapper DaBaby performed the GRAMMY-nominated "Rockstar" with multiple GRAMMY nominee Roddy Ricch and a guest appearance by Anthony Hamilton. Backed by a gospel choir of older folks dressed as judges in robes, DaBaby kicked off his performance with his back to the audience, facing the choir and waving a conducting baton.

When Ricch and Hamilton took the mic, DaBaby turned around and conducted the choir. DaBaby added lyrics to the original version of "Rockstar," rapping about his GRAMMYs performance right then and there. "My skin don't look the same, so I get singled out/ Right now, I'm performing at the GRAMMYs; I’ll probably get profiled before leaving out."

Rounding out the ensemble was violinist MAPY. DaBaby then joined GRAMMY winner Dua Lipa for the disco-infused "Levitating."

Introducing… Silk Sonic!

Anderson .Paak, who won a GRAMMY for Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Bruno Mars debuted their new R&B project Silk Sonic. The performance followed a playful campaign on Twitter during GRAMMY week. They tweeted at the Recording Academy that they are "two out of work musicians" who would love to perform, a request that was happily obliged.

Performing their '70s soul-infused first single "Leave the Door Open" from their forthcoming record An Evening with Silk Sonic in throwback suits and shades, the pair delivered a smooth, crowd-pleasing performance. 

They even caught the eyes and ears of Halle Berry, who tweeted "Ima leave the door ooopen!"

A Touching In Memoriam

During a year in which we lost over 500,000 American lives to the pandemic, the In Memoriam tribute was even more poignant. Noah introduced the segment, explaining that because of the number of people we tragically lost in the last year, not all the names would appear, but they'd all be online after the show. 

The segment opened with footage of GRAMMY-winner Bill Withers, who died in March, performing his GRAMMY-winning song "Ain't No Sunshine." Then, Bruno Mars (on vocals) and Anderson .Paak (on drums) honored rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, who died in May, with "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Long Tall Sally."

Lionel Richie, who wrote Kenny Rogers' hit song "Lady," performed the song in a touching tribute to the country legend and Richie's longtime friend who died last March. After his performance, an emotional Richie said, "I miss you, Kenny. I miss you, man." 

There was also footage of country legend Charley Pride, who died in December from complications of coronavirus, singing his GRAMMY-winning song "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," and multiple GRAMMY-winner Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who died last summer, conducting the score to "Cinema Paradiso."

Brandi Carlile paid tribute to her friend, the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter John Prine, who died in April from complications related to the coronavirus, with a stirring performance of his song "I Remember Everything." At the end of her performance, Carlile said, "We all thank you, John. For everything."

Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard took the stage with Coldplay's Chris Martin accompanying her on the piano. They performed a powerful rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone," originally written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and a hit song in the 1960s for Gerry and the Pacemakers, whose lead singer Gerry Marsden died in January. 

The segment ended with a tribute to Walter C. Miller, a longtime veteran director of the GRAMMY Awards, Tonys, Emmys, and CMAs who died last year.

Country's Leading Lights Shone Bright

Country artist Mickey Guyton, who Noah introduced as the first Black female solo artist ever nominated in the country category, performed her gorgeous GRAMMY-nominated song "Black Like Me," giving an especially stirring and goosebumps-inducing performance with a backing gospel choir. Vibrant GRAMMY-winner Miranda Lambert performed her catchy country GRAMMY-nominated hit "Bluebird."

GRAMMY-nominated Maren Morris performed her hit GRAMMY-nominated song "Bones" accompanied by John Mayer on guitar. With Morris wearing a red gown and diamond choker and Mayer dressed casually in a blazer, white t-shirt and jeans, the pair looked at odds with each other. Still, they had powerful chemistry and seemed to be having a good time, with Mayer smiling broadly at Morris.

Post Malone Took Us To Church

A multiple-GRAMMY nominated Post Malone performed his poignant GRAMMY-nominated song "Hollywood's Bleeding." Opening with a robed choir holding candles in the darkness, Malone emerged on stage dressed entirely in leather covered in crosses with a giant cross hanging around his neck. Kneeling over in complete darkness, which became illuminated by purple lighting, Malone gave a focused and vibrant performance surrounded by dry ice.

BTS Made A Joyful Sound

South Korea's BTS, who made their GRAMMY debut last year performing alongside Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, and Nas, were first-time GRAMMY nominees this year. The seven-member boy band closed out the show from Seoul, Korea, on a set resembling the GRAMMYs in downtown Los Angeles.

Looking sharp in their colorful suits, they performed their GRAMMY-nominated smash hit "Dynamite." The slick choreography took the seven members on a journey from a rose-festooned stage to a red carpet with fireworks to a rooftop with strobe lights.

Lil Baby Raised His Voice

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated rapper Lil Baby took on police brutality with his highly charged performance of his GRAMMY-nominated song "The Bigger Picture." The performance opened with pulling over actor Kendrick Sampson and removing him from his car. As a quote by writer and activist James Baldwin was piped in, the police opened fire.

Activist Tamika Mallory appeared on stage, putting a call out to President Biden, saying, "President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses." 

Later, Killer Mike made a surprise appearance rapping a verse from RTJ4's "Walking in the Snow." Lil Baby ended his moving performance standing on a police cruiser as fireworks are set off, his face turned toward the sky as he holds one arm high above his head.

2021 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Winners & Nominees List

Press Play: Watch Tish Melton Preview Debut EP With A Stripped-Down Performance Of "Sober"
Tish Melton

Photo: Courtesy of Tish Melton

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Press Play: Watch Tish Melton Preview Debut EP With A Stripped-Down Performance Of "Sober"

Indie pop newcomer — and Brandi Carlile's mentee — Tish Melton premieres "Sober," an emotional track from her upcoming EP, 'When We're Older,' out March 1.

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2024 - 07:50 pm

Beneath the empty bottles, Tish Melton wants to know if her love is true; to her, drunken confessions of love mean nothing. It's what happens when the party's over and no one is watching — that's when she sees that person at their most authentic.

"You're standing close/ But you're so far away/ Your eyes are closed/ But you see me anyway," Melton sings on the bridge of her emotional track "Sober." "And I swear you told me you love me on the walk home/ If you meant it, I'll never know/ I think we should stay sober."

In this episode of Press Play, the indie pop newcomer premieres "Sober" with a raw and intimate acoustic performance.

"Sober" is an unreleased track from her upcoming first EP, When We're Older, which arrives on March 1. Melton previously released three singles in 2023, "Damage," "The Chase," and "Michelle."

As she prepares her debut project, Melton already has a major supporter in her corner: nine-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile, who has been a mentor to Melton since recognizing her talent at her debut show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

"Tish is so young and so brilliant," Carlile, who produced When We're Older, revealed in a press statement. "Like most lessons in life, I learned this one while I thought I was teaching it. We should guide youth in music, but there is no question that it should lead."

Watch the video above to hear Tish Melton's honest performance of "Sober," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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I Was A Trophy Holder At The 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony
GRAMMY U Representative Rachel Owen

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I Was A Trophy Holder At The 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony

During the 66th GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, four GRAMMY U Representatives presented golden gramophones to Billie Eilish, boygenius, Tyla, and others. Read on to learn how GRAMMY U Reps were able to grace the stage on Music's Biggest Night.

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2024 - 07:33 pm

From lighting technicians to audio engineers to writers, hundreds of people make the GRAMMYs possible. Whether these professionals are on stage or working behind the curtain, all of these vital roles help produce Music’s Biggest Night.

Another vital role on GRAMMY night is that of trophy holder, where one is tasked with bringing out the physical golden gramphones and winner envelopes to presenters. Trophy holders then usher the award recipient off the stage after their speech. Representatives from GRAMMY U’s Atlanta (Jasmine Gordon), Texas (Pierson Livingston), Pacific Northwest (Chloe Sarmiento), and Chicago (Rachel Owen) Chapters were selected to be trophy holders at the 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony, and went behind the scenes.

The real preparation actually commences before the show lands on screens back home. Prior to GRAMMY Sunday, the four representatives visited the Peacock Theater to get the rundown on stage positions, proper handling of the GRAMMY Award, proper attire for the event, and various other subtle details that would normally go unnoticed.

On the day of the show, trophy holders arrived for their 10 a.m. call time, receiving a final rehearsal of the show with the backing music and stage lights. Post-rehearsal, they headed into hair and makeup for final touch-ups to become camera-ready. From then, focus shifts to getting into place and calming restless nerves before the show kicks off at noon.

"At first there were so many nerves taking over my body," said Jasmine Gordon, Atlanta Chapter Rep. "But, as soon as I walked on stage there was a rush of excitement and happiness that took over."

This year, following an opening performance from Pentatonix, Jordin Sparks, Larkin Poe, J. Ivy, and Sheila E., host Justin Tranter introduced the GRAMMY U Representatives as they lined up on the stage. From there, the show commenced and winners were announced.

Before trophy holders take the stage, the envelopes are meticulously triple-checked to make sure they are representing the right category and a GRAMMY is placed in their hands. The envelope is given to the presenter to announce the winner. 

As the audience applauds and the winner makes their way to the stage from their seat, the presenter trades the envelope for the golden gramophone which they give to the winner. While the trophy holder typically stands in the shadows to the side of a presenter like Jimmy Jam or Natalia Lafourcade, they occupy a very important and visible place on the GRAMMY stage.

After an approximately 45-second acceptance speech, trophy holders escort the winner backstage for photos and media.  The trophy holders rinsed and repeated that routine dozens of times,handing off golden gramophones and escorting artists such as Billie Eilish, boygenius, and Tyla

Chicago GRAMMY U Rep Rachel Owen shared that one of her favorite moments included being on the side stage, standing right next to music icon Joni Mitchell when she won the GRAMMY for Best Folk Album.

"I’ll never ever forget the moment Joni Mitchell won for Best Folk Album. Everyone was cheering her on and she just got so happy, I feel so lucky to have witnessed that moment," Owen says. "I hadn’t realized before how close I would be to the winners; it was a great surprise."

Reflecting on the ceremony, the GRAMMY U Representatives shared how surreal the entire experience was for them and their professional development.

"Being right with artists as they win or right after they won was such a surreal experience," says Owen. "The overwhelming joy I got to witness from so many artists was contagious, I simply had an amazing time."

Rewatch The 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony In Full: Featuring Performances From Pentatonix, Jordin Sparks, Robert Glasper, Brandy Clark, Laufey & Many More

Watch All The Performances From The 2024 GRAMMYs: Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo & More
Annie Lennox performs during the 66th GRAMMY Awards

Photos: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Watch All The Performances From The 2024 GRAMMYs: Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo & More

The 66th GRAMMY Awards were full of memorable moments and incredible performances. Relive Music's Biggest Night with performance videos from Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Gaby Moreno & David Aguilar, and more.

GRAMMYs/Feb 7, 2024 - 12:57 am

The 2024 GRAMMYs were marked by record-breaking wins, moving speeches and viral moments both on- and offstage. But what truly tied together Music's Biggest Night — beyond artistic excellence — was its slate of stunning and emotional performances.

From Dua Lipa's opening act and new song, to Joni Mitchell's first-ever performance on the GRAMMY stage and the tearjerking-yet-thrilling tribute to lost icons, the 66th GRAMMY Awards were a showcase of the best of the business. 

Press play on the videos below and relive the most exciting performances from the 66th GRAMMY Awards

Dua Lipa opened the 66th GRAMMY Awards with a medley of the first two singles from her upcoming album. Tracks "Houdini" and "Training Season" are the first two singles off Dua Lipa’s forthcoming third studio record, which follows her GRAMMY-winning 2020 LP Future Nostalgia. The 2024 GRAMMYs were a sneak peek of "Training Season," as the track officially arrives Feb. 15.

In a full-circle moment, Luke Combs perform his GRAMMY-nominated cover of "Fast Car" — with a suprise appearance from Tracy Chapman. "Fast Car" earned Chapman a GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1989, when she took home the trophy. On the GRAMMY stage, the otherwise reclusive Chapman beamed as she strummed an acoustic guitar and duetted with Combs.

"Tracy is such an icon and, I mean, one of the best songwriters that I think any of us will ever be around to see," Combs said in the video introducing his performance.

Miley Cyrus had only performed "Flowers" twice before taking the GRAMMY-winning song to stage on Music’s Biggest Night. And while the hit track off Endless Summer Vacation was sure to be a showstopper, Cyrus’ performance was made even more special by winning her first GRAMMY moments before. After  eight nominations and many years in the industry, the singer’s exclamations of excitment were felt by everyone watching.

After winning the GRAMMY Award for Best Song Written For Visual Media at the Premiere Ceremony, Billie Eilish and brother FINNEAS performed the existential pop ballad from Barbie on the GRAMMY stage. "What Was I Made For?" would go on to win Song Of The Year, showing the world that Eilish certainly knows what she was made for.

Eighty-year-old icon ad 2022 MusiCares Person Of The Year Joni Mitchell performed for the first time at the GRAMMY Awrds — and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Seated in an elegant chair and surrounded by chandeliers, Mitchell offered an emotional performance of her 1969 hit "Both Sides Now." The legened was backed by Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell, Sistastrings, Lucius, Jacob Collier, and Blake Mills; earlier in the day, "Both Sides" took home the golden gramophone for Best Folk Album.

SZA went into the 2024 GRAMMYs as the most-nominated artist and took home awards for  Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best R&B Song. She then gave back to the audience, performing the GRAMMY-winning "Snooze," clad in a leather duster and wide-brimmed hat.

Olivia Rodrigo may not have taken home a golden gramophone, but she still left her all on the GRAMMYs stage. Donning an appropriately hued dress and just a dash of "blood" on her face, Rodrigo performed "vampire" as red liquid seeped from the walls behind her.

Billy Joel performed twice at the 66th GRAMMY Awards, treating audiences to one familiar tune and one brand-new track. Joel shared his newest offering, "Turn the Lights Back On," just before Album Of The Year was announced. His first release since 2007, "Turn the Lights Back On" marked his first time playing on the GRAMMYs stage in more than 20 years.

Burna Boy brought a piece of his homeland to the GRAMMYs, dancing among throngs of colorfully-dressed performers and equally colorful buildings. The Nigerian Afrobeats star performed "On Form," "City Boys" and "Sitting On Top Of The World," iwth special appearances by Brandy and 21 Savage.

U2 took the GRAMMY audience on a quick trip to Las Vegas, performing "Atomic City" live from the Sphere. The swirling, psychedelic and high-tech performance was the first live broadcast from Sin City venue, which the 22-time GRAMMY winners are currently doing a residency.

During the moving In Memoriam segment of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox was joined by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman to pay tribute to Sinead O'Connor. Together, they offered an emotional cover of the late Irish pioneer's "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Further honoring the lives of incredible individuals that the music world lost in 2023, Fantasia Barrino made Tina Turner proud with a high-energy performance of "Proud Mary." The performance and tribute were introduced by Oprah Winfrey, who called Turner "a towering figure. She is our forever goddess of rock and roll who inspired millions, a moving symbol of grace and grit, soul and power…And as those big wheels of time keep on turnin’, Tina’s voice continues to speak to all of us." 

Continuing the In Memoriam tribute, Global Impact Award honoree Lenny Kravitz paid respect to Clarence Avant as the "Godfather of Black Music" with a tribute that included a performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me" by Album Of The Year nominee Jon Batiste.

During the Premiere Ceremony, Gaby Moreno & El David Aguilar performed a harmonious and haunting “Luna de Xelaju.” Their take on the popular Guatemalan waltz composed by Paco Pérez was set against a video of falling rose petals, highlighting the romanticism of the duo’s voices.

The Premiere Ceremony kicked off the 2024 GRAMMYs with an exciting performance from Pentatonix, Jordin Sparks, Larkin Poe, J. Ivy, and Sheila E., who welcomed audiences to a day-long celebration of musical excellence.

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New Artists, Lasting Legends and Iconic Performances: Inside Clive Davis's 2024 Pre-Grammy Gala
Sabrina Carpenter, Ice Spice, Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff attend the Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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New Artists, Lasting Legends and Iconic Performances: Inside Clive Davis's 2024 Pre-Grammy Gala

Ahead of Music's Biggest Night, stars including Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Megan Thee Stallion, Chloe x Halle and more flocked to the annual Pre-GRAMMY Gala co-presented by the Recording Academy.

GRAMMYs/Feb 6, 2024 - 10:20 pm

Who better than Tom Hanks to say it best?

"Clive Davis has provided us with the soundtrack of our lives, our emotions and our inspirations," the legendary actor said of the night's premiement host; the legendary music executive, passionate advocate for the power of song and noted discoverer of artists. 

"Music is the food [of the soul], give us excess of it," said Hanks in his passionate opening soliloquy packed with approbation. "And tonight is a night of excess."

It's the stuff of legend, a topic of lore and an evening that regularly rockets itself in the pages of music history. For nearly 50 years, Clive Davis's Pre-GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons has been a star-making opportunity for the music industry to celebrate their past monumental year, highlighting both veteran acts and tomorrow's superstars. For its 2024 edition, held on a rainy night at its regular home at the equally iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel the night before the GRAMMY Awards — its usual slot on the calendar — the grand master of music's party continued to provide a beacon of light for jaw-dropping performances and starry shoulder-rubbing. 

But before the party is the cocktail hour; a curious affair where music past and present collides. In one corner finds Producer Of The Year nominee Dan Nigro, the pop whisperer behind acclaimed acts ranging from Chappell Roan, Conan Gray and the multiple-Grammy nominated Olivia Rodrigo. A couple people away was Frankie Valli, last year's Pre-GRAMMY Gala opener who is currently in the midst of what he bills as a farewell tour. Looking around the room, the star power is abundant: Dianne Warren, the aforementioned Hanks with wife Rita Wilson, MusiCares' 2024 Person Of The Year Jon Bon Jovi, longtime Gala guest Nancy Pelosi alongside husband Paul. 

Just beyond the cocktail hour lies the red carpet, which boasts a head-snapping array of personalities. Megan Thee Stallion strutted in flaunting a gold-colored dress, while last year's Best New Artist winner Samara Joy sauntered in an equally dazzling gown. The list of guests includes an eclectic array of who's who in music: pop star Ellie Goulding, the dance-pop-country artist and producer Diplo, country-pop icon Shania Twain, recent Black Music Collective honorees Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, the producer David Foster with wife Katherine McPhee, eventual three-time GRAMMY winners Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers (the trio otherwise known as Boygenius), and the following night's GRAMMY opener Dua Lipa, among countless others.

As the esteemed guests (which also included Kenneth "Babyface" EdmundsJanelle Monáe, Troye Sivan, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, the members of Earth, Wind and Fire and Charli XCX) settled into their seats in a ballroom with a stage outfitted with the bash's signature twinkle lights sparkling on the stage, a countdown on the monitors appeared. 3, 2, 1…

"We're going to play a game of word association," said Hanks, who was bestowed the honor of introducing Davis and to mark the occasion, he managed to recite a massive list of artists Davis had a hand or hands in making superstars, from Janis Joplin to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, right up to Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys. "The only reason why Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky weren't mentioned is because they all died before Clive Davis had a chance to introduce them," he joked.

"I've gotta tell you, the emotions run high," said Davis. "I look out among you and I see so many familiar faces. The whole thing began as long ago as 1976 and I really have to pinch myself that it's going so, so strong. I'm happy to say that music is alive and well."

Tennis great Serena Williams introduced the night's opening act, Green Day. "In 2022, Clive Davis and I were honored together when we were inducted into the National Portrait Gallery," she recalled. "I said to him, 'You've got to remember to invite me to your gala. I'm so thrilled to be back here to introduce my favorite band. To know me is to know my love for them."

The punk gods are currently making a comeback with their 14th studio album, Saviors, and celebrating the 30th anniversary of their breakout album Dookie and 20th anniversary of their massively successful LP American Idiot. The group honored both anniversaries with a song from each, "American Idiot" and "Basket Case."

In years past, the night's performers ranged a wide gamut; but to prove Davis's point and regenerative effects of the industry, this year a large portion of the roster of surprise performers were plucked from the 2024's crop of Best New Artist nominees. There was the singer-songwriter Noah Kahan, who busted out a rousing rendition of his own breakout "Stick Season," while Ice Spice hit the stage to deliver her 2023 solo hit, "Deli." 

Rising country star Jelly Roll was also bequeathed a coveted slot, proclaiming his excitement by saying he had "only read about the party in books and magazines." With that, he delivered rousing versions of his candid single "Need a Favor" backed by a choir, as well as his equally affecting "Save Me," on which he brought out duet partner and eventual GRAMMY winner Lainey Wilson.

In fact, it was Wilson who provided one of the most surprising moments of the night when she appeared to perform a special version of Barbie's "I'm Just Ken" accompanied by songwriter Andrew Watt on piano and Mark Ronson on guitar. Of course, Davis was the architect of the moment, an idea he said came to him last week; Ronson suggested Wilson after the song's original performer, the actor Ryan Gosling, was unavailable. 

"To look astound and to see some of the greatest musicians and record-makers, it's really an honor to be here," Ronson said. "This is a song we wrote for the movie Barbie about the beauty of being the runner-up sometimes, which is a lesson I know very well," he said to laughter. "It's pretty cool to be second sometimes."

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Fresh off his starring role on Broadway's Sweeney Todd, Josh Groban delivered a subtle tribute to the legend behind the Broadway musical by performing "Children Will Listen," before paying tribute to Davis himself with a gospel-tinged performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which Davis had a hand in releasing. Joining him was another Best New Artist nominee, The War and Treaty frontman Michael Trotter Jr., and the pair's joint vocal power brought the audience to its feet. 

Musical whiplash ensued with additional performances courtesy Maluma and Isley Brothers, the latter of which performed their instantly-recognizable "Shout" as a tribute to Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Publishing Jon Platt, the evening's Icon honoree. An award which in years past has gone to heavyweights including David Geffen, Mo Ostin, Ahmet Ertgun and Jerry Moss to name a few, Platt was touched by the honor and delivered a 40-minute speech chock full of stories and reflections. Not even a beeping fire alarm, which at one point blared and flashed through his speech, tripped up Platt.

"It's funny because Harvey called me and I thought he needed help with something," said Platt, recalling the moment the Recording Academy's CEO Harvey Mason jr. informed him of the honor. "But he said I was selected as this year's industry icon and I was like, 'Wow, man.'" 

Noting he needed convincing to accept the honor ("I'm [just] seeing so many other people doing great things," he relented), Platt's contributions to music, from his work with everyone from Isley Brothers to Beyonce to Jay-Z, and even Oliva Rodrigo, makes him both a genre and decade-spanning force. 

"You'll see a consistent thing with me is that I'm a music nerd-fanboy," Platt said, noting how a kind word from the composer Gerald Busby made this evening a full circle moment for him. "[One day in 1998] I saw him and we were making small talk and he said, 'Someone was asking me who I see in the industry today that can achieve the things that I can achieve. I told them that Big Jon's gonna run the whole thing one day.' For someone to share the belief they have in you is incredibly powerful. From that day, I changed the course of my focus. Everything had a purpose after that."

Another one of the artists Platt fostered performed in his honor as well: Public Enemy. "We're here for you and here for all of our heroes and hero-ettes," Chuck D declared before the group dove into an energetic medley of "Can't Truss It," "Bring the Noise" and "Fight the Power." 

It wouldn't be a Clive Davis bash without one final surprise. As 1 a.m. neared, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick hit the stage, with the former belting out a passionate version of "(The Way We Were) Memories" and the duo joining together for Warwick's endearing staple, "That's What Friends are For" alongside Andra Day. 

But from the electrified crowd, guest Stevie Wonder just couldn't help himself, getting up on stage to assist on harmonica. "This has been such a wonderful blessing to meet all of these people in my life; to meet Dionne, to meet Gladys," Wonder said, cueing up an unrehearsed and on-the-fly version of "What the World Needs Now Is Love" with the entire group. 

"I know this is what we need in the world," he continued. "There are many people that for so many years have been dividing people, not understanding the purpose that God has given us to come together."

It was a moving way to wrap up the night — and a fitting one at that, bringing together stars young and old to offer an inspiring message, and remind just how powerful music can be.

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