Stevie Wonder closed the multi-hour, all-star Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala with a rousing harmonica performance, a strong vocal delivery and words of positivity.
The icon was joined by Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Andra Day, Keyshia Cole and Frederic Yonnet for performances of “That’s What Friends Are For” and “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” cutting off the latter song to tell the audience — which included Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Cher — that “music is love [and] let us use the gift of love that we’ve been given by the Almighty to make a difference in the world.”
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“I’ve been blessed to be alive, but I’ve been blessed to see everyone — not seeing you physically — but seeing you spiritually,” Wonder said at the gala that ended early Sunday morning. “And what breaks my heart is to know that we’re still talking about the same thing that I heard you talking about when I was a little boy. What breaks my heart is that people talk about it … but are not about it,” Wonder said at the gala that ended early Sunday morning. “We write about it, we sing about it, the musicians play about it, we pray about it, but what we need to do is do about it.
“So I beg of you, those of you who can see what we’re doing to this planet, those of you that can see the anger in people’s faces, those of you that can hear the anger and the confusion that is on social media, those of you that feel that you have to follow those broken hearts, we as artists have to mend those hearts with love,” he continued. “We can stop and put an end and ask for all of the 32 nations of the world to have a truce and stop the fighting and begin to love. It’s not impossible.”
While he spoke, Knight sang softly and nodded her head in agreement. Warwick chimed in with closing words: “What Stevie has just given to you, please take that to heart. Take it home and share it.”
Davis’ white-hot event at The Beverly Hilton, held a day before the Grammy Awards, began on Saturday night with a rocking performance by Green Day, who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their breakthrough album Dookie and the 20th anniversary of the multi-hit affair American Idiot. Serena Williams introduced the group, calling them “my favorite band of literally all time.”
“Don’t cheer, vote!,” Billie Joe Armstrong said after his performance.
Other performers included multiple acts nominated for best new artist on Sunday. Victoria Monet danced with skill and precision; Ice Spice twerked and asked “where’s the baddies?”; Noah Kahan strummed his guitar and sang with strength; and an excited Jelly Roll won over the audience, exclaiming: “I’m nominated for two [Grammys] and I’m loving every fucking part of it!”
Breakthrough country singer Lainey Wilson joined Jelly Roll for their hit “Save Me” and also sang “I’m Just Ken” from Barbie — filling in for Ryan Gosling — alongside the song’s writers Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt.
Josh Groban and Michael Trotter Jr. of the duo The War and Treaty, also nominated for best new artist, joined forces for a memorable performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”; Colombian singer Maluma said he was proud to represent Latinos with his performance; while Public Enemy and the Isley Brothers hit the stage in honor of Sony music publishing chairman and CEO Jon Platt, who received the Recording Academy’s Grammy Salute to Industry Icons award.
The event was packed with famous faces — who Davis introduced by reading off their stats and achievements — including Adrien Brody, Smokey Robinson, Mariah Carey, Jon Bon Jovi, Martina Navratilova, Berry Gordy, Frankie Valli, Earth, Wind & Fire, Julia Garner, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Lenny Kravitz and Luke Combs.
Davis also took a moment to honor returning guest Nancy Pelosi. “Lately I’ve always introduced this person first, because she deserves it. This is the 24th consecutive year of her attendance, of her participating, of her being among you to celebrate music. She’s the United States’ 52nd speaker of the House of Representatives,” he said of Pelosi, who earned a standing ovation and typically receives rock star treatment from the audience at the gala. “She served the country in this position for eight years and supported millions of people with her life-saving values and principles. She’s a true hero.”
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