Clive Davis on Whitney Houston, pre-Grammys gala

Posted at 10:36 PM, Feb 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-08 22:36:15-05

(CNN) — Clive Davis received some criticism for continuing to host his pre-Grammys bash after news spread that Whitney Houston had died that same day.

But a year later, Davis tells CNN that he thinks he made the right call.

“Going through with the event that night was a no-brainer. I had spoken with the family,” Davis says. “Whether it was the Grammys party or it was the Grammy Awards show the next night, there was never a question that we would not celebrate music in her honor.”

According to Davis, others in town for music’s biggest night encouraged him to go on with the gala, so they didn’t have to be alone after such heartbreaking news.

“I was personally shattered. The audience, I know, was feeling an emotional devastation, but I would say 99 percent of the calls I got said, ‘Don’t leave us alone,'” Davis recalls. “‘We want to be with each other. We don’t want to sit in our hotel rooms having come from either Europe or across from the East Coast. We want to be with our musical brothers & sisters.’ It was never contemplated. There might have been a few people who did not want to attend, and that’s their prerogative. There are no rights or wrongs when such a tragedy occurs, but the room was packed – it was standing room only from beginning to end. We did justice to Whitney’s musical heritage and I am really the bearer of her flame.”

Davis is hoping this year’s event, which is taking place on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton with Miguel as the featured performer, will be a place of community.

“We want an evening that brings back people. I’ve been doing this for over 35 years and the same people, added by new artists, new energy, come back every year,” Davis says. “It’s their highlight because you do celebrate music. We’ve seen Aretha Franklin and Alicia Keys on the same stage performing a duet together, or an unlikely pairing like Rod Stewart and Lou Reed. Last year [it] was Jamie Foxx and Diana Ross, so we do prepare and try to bring the best of not only new music … but also established artists that have nothing to do with the Grammys but that everybody in that room should see and appreciate.”