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Lil Wayne brought the heat, Cardi B was both hilarious and heartwarming and Kevin Costner remembered Whitney Houston at Clive Davis’ annual white-hot pre-Grammy gala, which made its return after three years.
Lil Wayne was energetic onstage, getting audience members out of their seats — from Machine Gun Kelly to Swizz Beatz — with a fiery performance of his hits, including “Lollipop,” “A Milli,” “Uproar,” “John” and more.
“I am here on behalf of Young Money Records. I’d like to thank Mr. Davis for having,” Lil Wayne, holding a microphone in one hand and a joint in the other, said Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton. “If you know anything about me, I love to have fun onstage.”
Davis’ event, held a day before the 2023 Grammys, began with Italian rockers Måneskin working the stage with the anthems “I Wanna Be Your Slave” and “Beggin,” getting R&B duo Chloe x Halle to scrunch their faces and rock their heads. Chance the Rapper jumped out his seat to dance and sang along with 88-year-old Frankie Valli, who won over the audience with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”
Other performers included Lizzo, Elvis Costello with Colombian singer Juanes, Lil Baby and Latto, who is nominated for best new artist and best melodic rap performance for her multi-platinum hit, “Big Energy.”
“I can’t believe I’m here right now — I could cry,” she said.
Jennifer Hudson honored Houston by singing a top-notch rendition of “The Greatest Love of All,” while Sheryl Crow paid tribute to Christine McVie with a performance, which she will repeat during the In Memoriam segment of the Grammys telecast. Myles Frost, who won a Tony for his portrayal of Michael Jackson in Broadway’s MJ musical, ended the night with a performance from the stage show. Frost is nominated for a Grammy for his work on the play’s soundtrack.
Heavyweights in music and other areas of entertainment and business watched on, including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Joni Mitchell, Tim Cook, Adrien Brody, Janelle Monae, Olivia Rodrigo, Emilio Estevez, Lil Nas X, Ron Artest, Earth Wind & Fire, Miranda Lambert, Demi Lovato, Luke Combs, H.E.R and Nancy Pelosi, who got the loudest applause of the night after Davis introduced the House Speaker.
Cardi B read a speech she wrote from her phone as she honored Atlantic Records executives Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman, who both received the 2023 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award.
“I have to say that I’m not making this beautiful speech tonight about Craig and Julie because I want them to give me a bigger budget for my new album and my next music video,” Cardi B said to laughs from the crowd. “I’m here tonight because I want to thank them for believing in me. When I signed to Atlantic six years ago, other labels were lowballing me and not giving me what I thought I deserved, but Atlantic was right there respecting me and my vision for my career.”
“When I was in the middle of making my first album, I was very scared. I was pregnant and I was afraid to tell anyone. I was afraid that people would want me to decide between my family and my career because I knew that that happened to other artists and other labels. But with Craig and Julie, the exact opposite happened,” Cardi B continued. “You told me I could do both, and I will never, ever forget that.”
Christian singer Lauren Daigle performed “Son of a Preacher Man” to pay tribute to the executives and also honor the 75th anniversary of Atlantic Records.
Houston — who Davis launched at his event decades ago — was also the center of the night. Kevin Costner appeared onstage to introduce Davis and remember his former Bodyguard co-star.
“I don’t know Clive as much as most of you in this room … [but] we both love music. I can’t dance very well. I can’t dance at all, but we both were struck by Whitney the first time we ever saw her,” Costner said in his lengthy introduction.
“Thank you for being her bodyguard, Clive,” Costner said.
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