One of tonight's biggest questions was: will Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's annual pre-Grammy gala go on?

Not only did it take place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel but Davis was Whitney Houston's mentor and champion since she was in her teens. He was with her through the good times and stuck with her through the worst.

But yes, the party went on...

The red carpet was full of celebs and they had plenty to say about the late songstress.

"There will never be another Whitney Houston," said Gladys Knight. "Her voice was unique."

Knight remembered when Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick called her when Whitney was a little girl. "I've known the family for a very long time," she said. "I remember Dionne calling me and saying, 'Wait till you hear Nippy.' They used to call her Nippy."

Knight continued, "She was a star from above. Her star may not have shined for long, but when it did, boy did it shine."

"Your thoughts and prayers go out to her family and her loved ones, her daughter," said E! reality star Kim Kardashian. "It's just so sad, especially tonight at Clive's party."

Inside the International Ballroom, a teary-eyed Davis took to the stage.

"I am personally devastated by the loss of somebody who meant so much to me," he said.

"Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight..she loved music. She loved this night. Let's celebrate music." Calling Houston "a beautiful person," Davis added that "she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence so many times."

RELATED: The Life of Whitney Houston: A Timeline (Aug. 9, 1963-Jan. 11, 2012)

And the show, he said, must go on. "Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked us to carry on."

He then asked for a moment of silence to dedicate the evening to Whitney. Photos of Whitney performing on GMA were shown on screens throughtout the ballroom.

Davis then announced, "Now ladies and gentleman, let the music begin."

Tony Bennett was the first to perform, a moving rendition of "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"

He also said that after the too-short lives of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and now Houston, "Let's legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam...It's called sanity instead of insanity."

Sean "Diddy" Combs said he wasn't sure if he should come tonight but decided to after talking to Davis.

"Whitney Houston was a gift from god," he said.

He remembered sitting next to her at an awards show, "If you ever sat next to Whitney Houston anywhere you already knew u were in for a good time."

He said that all was right when "she gave you that hug, that grandma hug that shook your body."

Then came the night's planned performance of Ray Davies leading a Kinks medley with Jackson Brown and Elvis Costello. Rounding out the night's line-up were Miranda Lambert and Pitbull and Ne-Yo and Jessie J, among others. Brandy and Monica decided not to sing their new single but did watch the show from the audience.

Before performing, Alicia Keys said, "She's a sister to me. We had a kindred sisterhood."

Keys said Houston once visited her in a city she can't even pronounce. "She just hung out with me," Keys said before launching into a soulful take on Billy Joel's "New York State Mind."

Meanwhile, in a macabre twist, Houston's body remained at the hotel under the watch of police and coroner's investigators as the party rolled on.

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