There’s one invite for Grammys week that even has A-listers checking their snail mail. That would be Clive Davis and the Recording Academy’s Annual Pre-Grammy Gala.
Every year the hottest stars, most talented musicians and their significant others (if they can score a plus one) sit down to eat, be merry and watch a star-studded slate of intimate performances hosted by iconic hitmaker Clive Davis.
“I think part of the reason it has become the event that it is, is that so many people can’t get in the room,” says Branden Chapman, Executive In Charge of Production for the Recording Academy. For the last 11 years, Chapman has had the job of working hand-in-hand with Davis to produce the ultra-exclusive event.
What started back in 1976 as an intimate dinner to celebrate Davis’s then-breakout talent Barry Manilow, has transformed into an annual bash bringing together the best in music on the eve of music’s biggest night.
- We’ve Got Your Ticket! Join PeopleTV host Rocsi Diaz and PEOPLE Music Editor Janine Rubenstein live from the Beverly Hills Hotel on Saturday, Feb 9, for the PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Red Carpet Live: Clive Davis and The Recording Academy’s Pre-Grammy Gala, our exclusive live show before the big event. The red carpet show will begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and will stream on Facebook, Twitter and on PeopleTV, which is available on all your favorite streaming services.
“I think more than anything else every year we are able to really represent what is happening in music and what is happening in our society and in culture and I think this year more than any other we’ve seen all three come together in a pivotal moment,” says Chapman.
For this year’s gala, returning to the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Davis will take to the podium to honor Clarence Avant, storied music manager and executive, often referred to as “The Godfather of Black Music.” Further details of the night are under lock and key.
Though names like Nancy Pelosi, Post Malone, this year’s Grammys host Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx (who had a memorable night last year when Davis shouted out him and girlfriend Katie Holmes from the podium) have already leaked, the guest list is mostly a secret. “We don’t do a press release on it with all the details. It’s really about all of the guests being surprised at every element once they step foot on that red carpet,” Chapman tells PEOPLE.
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And it’s a night for everyone to really enjoy themselves, as the event is not telecast. Still, guests know to be ready for anything. “One year,” recalls Chapman, “we had to replace a performer once we had already opened the doors to the event.”
He continues, “After scanning the guest list and seeing who had already hit the red carpet. Clive and I asked Josh Groban to perform without any prior knowledge, and he went backstage, met with our music producer Rickey Minor and ultimately delivered an unbelievable performance of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.'”
Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music’s biggest night.
While putting together the event is no easy feat, Chapman’s partner is as up for the task as he always was. “Clive is undoubtedly hands-on, detail oriented and more than anything has the energy of somebody in their 20s,” Chapman says. Davis is also endlessly connected. “He vacations with these musicians, invites them to his home, develops personal relationships. He really is The Godfather of the Music Industry.”
Tune in to the PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Red Carpet Live: Clive Davis and the Recording Academy Pre-Grammy Gala on Facebook, Twitter and PeopleTV streaming at 10p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. on Feb. 9.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards are broadcasting live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on CBS.