Stars 'sing Whitney into heaven'
Whitney Houston's mentor Clive Davis spoke of his devastation today at the star's sudden death but insisted: "Whitney would have wanted the music to go on."
More than two decades ago, Mr Davis had introduced the young woman with a scintillating voice to the music industry at his annual pre-Grammy soiree.
Hours after her death at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Mr Davis - Whitney's mentor, producer, champion and long-time friend - memorialised her at this year's gala, held downstairs from the hotel where she died and where her body was being examined by coroner's officials.
With celebrities including Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello, Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige and Jennifer Hudson in attendance, a sombre Mr Davis, reading from a sheet of paper, said: "I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me. She was full of life, looking forward for tonight. She loved music and she loved this night that celebrated music."
He added: "Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage ... so many times. So simply put: Whitney would have wanted the music to go on."
He dedicated the evening to her and asked for a moment of silence as a photo of the 48-year-old, hands wide open, looking to the sky, appeared on the screen.
Then, he said with excitement: "Now ladies and gentlemen, let the music begin."
Tony Bennett, the evening's first performer, recounted other recent big-name deaths in the music industry. "First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston. Let's legalise drugs, like Amsterdam, it's a very sane city now."
He added that Whitney was "the greatest singer I've ever heard in my life".