Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick rule at pre-Grammy gala hosted by Clive Davis

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The night began with a rare sight: tennis champion Serena Williams was flustered. “I'm a little nervous... I can't breathe,” she said through an exasperated smile. “I'm usually really good at this.”

The overwhelming task was not opening the famed Clive Davis pre-Grammys gala at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California — though that no doubt comes with some social pressure. It was introducing its opening act, one of her favorite groups of all time: Green Day.

An enthusiasm for music fueled the night, as to be expected. But it was a concluding performance by Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder that really stole the show — for those still in the room after 1 a.m. “Music is love,” Wonder told the crowd before launching into a singalong of Warwick's “What the World Needs Now.”

Knight first emerged to sing “The Way We Were / Try to Remember,” before being joined by Warwick for “That's What Friends Are For,” which Wonder closed with a harmonica solo.

About an hour earlier, Jon Platt, Sony Music Publishing chairman and CEO, was honored with the 2024 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons Award at the star-studded event and used his speech to remind those in attendance that “it always takes a village,” to move the needle in the music industry. “No one does it alone.”

Across his career, Platt has been celebrated for improving the ways in which hip-hop and R&B artists are compensated as songwriters — working with Usher, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams to name a few. “Jon cares about songwriters of all generations,” Recording Academy CEO and President Harvey Mason jr. said in his introduction to Platt. “He's worked tirelessly.”

Davis' gala, the incredibly popular and equally exclusive event, returned for the first time since the 2020 pandemic last year — and in 2024, attendees were just as excited as ever.

Davis, currently the chief creative officer of Sony, kicked off his pre-Grammy party in 1976 to celebrate Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” which became Arista Records' first Grammy record of the year nominee.

Admittance to Davis' event is notoriously challenging to receive. This year, those A-listers who made the cut included Smokey Robinson, Meryl Streep, Babyface, Jon Bon Jovi, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Gayle King, Ted Danson, Shania Twain, Diane Warren, Cameron Crowe, Sammy Hagar, Cher, Jack Antonoff, Gloria Esteban, Busta Rhymes, Megan Thee Stallion, Peso Pluma, Tyla, David Foster, and Mark Ronson.

When it came time to introduce Clive Davis to the stage, actor Tom Hanks did the honors. “Why are we here? Clive Davis, Clive Davis, Clive Davis,” he told the cheering crowd. "Clive Davis is the chef, in the kitchen, of the food of love of music, music, music. And he's the host of this — the most bitchin' party in the year."

The event included many performances from a diverse range of talent including Maluma, The Isley Brothers' bringing it back to 1959 with “Shout,” Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt tackling “I'm Just Ken,” but with country singer Lainey Wilson taking the place of actor Ryan Gosling.

Ice Spice inspired mixed reactions for her “Deli” track, Noah Kahan's folk-y “Stick Season” blended into “Dial Drunk,” Josh Groban tackled “Into the Woods” and then “Bridge Under Troubled Water” with the War and Treaty's Michael Trotter Jr.

Jelly Roll took it to church with a choir for “Need A Favor” and “Save Me," and Public Enemy continuing to “Fight the Power."

“We concentrate on the pure celebration of music,” Davis said at the start of the night — and by the end, that was evident.