Inside the Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala that brought out Black excellence

It was a night of glamour, musical legends, and unapologetic blackness at The Recording Academy and Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala on Saturday evening in Los Angles.

The annual bash is known for bringing out the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, but 2020 had special flair as Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs (a.k.a Sean ‘Love’ Combs) received the prestigious Icon Award.

TheGrio was on the red carpet and inside The Beverly Hilton ballroom, and saw stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Chance The Rapper, Usher, Cynthia Erivo, Cardi B and Offset, Naomi Campbell, Trevor Noah, Deborah Cox, Miguel, Billy Porter and even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Members of the Bad Boy family were there in full effect, with Lil Kim, Faith Evans and husband Stevie J. turning out. Diddy brought all six of his children, making a grand entrance into the Hilton ballroom, flanked by rapper Wiz Khalifa, producer Swizz Beatz, and an entourage of supporters, with faces that showed they were about business– a sign of things to come when Diddy took the stage and gave a passionate speech about diversity at the Grammys.

Another grand entrance came when Janet Jackson entered the ballroom, donning an all-black button up leather dress, surrounded by supporters.  Fans and industry insiders alike pulled out their phones to capture her walking by.

Security was tight as Cardi B and Offset entered The Beverly Hilton, where fans had gathered hours beforehand with signs to cheer her on.

“We waited for you Cardi!” one screamed out as the Bronx-born rapper slid by in a hot pink dress with a plunging neckline, causing the rapper to turn and wave.

The wait would be well worth it.

Back inside the ballroom, Icon award-winner Diddy didn’t let the fancy atmosphere stop him from keeping it real on stage during his nearly hour-long speech.

“So I say this with love to the Grammys, because you really need to know this, every year y’all be killing us man,” Diddy said. “Man, I’m talking about the pain. I’m speaking for all these artists here, the producers, the executives…The amount of time it takes to make these records, to pour your heart into it, and you just want an even playing field.”

He then went on to challenge the Grammys to get their “ish” together to support diversity in 365 days, echoing concerns from ousted CEO Deborah Dugan about the award process being influenced by conflicts of interest.

“Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” he continued. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.”

The speech earned plenty of applause, even after a long night.  The challenge to push the Grammys to enter a new era of diversity and authenticity was best summed up by Harvey Mason Jr., interim CEO.

“History is created right here in this room,” Mason said. “Looking around, I’m reminded of how much [of] a unifier music is.”