updated 02/12/2012 AT 1:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/12/2012 AT 1:50 AM ET
“Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight,” he told those gathered Saturday night at The Recording Academy and Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy gala, which she was due to attend (although she was not scheduled to perform, he said, as previously reported).
“Whitney would have asked that the music go on. And her family said the show should go on.”
With “a very heavy heart,” Davis also asked party goers to join him in a moment of silence.
“Now ladies and gentlemen,” he said after, “let the music begin.”
As the party started, Houston’s body was still in the Beverly Hilton hotel.
First to take the stage: Tony Bennett, who sang “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”
Bennett was followed by Diana Krall. Then it was Diddy who tried to push the event from somber to celebratory. “Whenever you saw Whitney, she hit you with that beautiful smile,” he said. “If we truly believe in God, then we should celebrate the life of Whitney Houston tonight.”
When Alicia Keys performed, she dedicated part of “No One” to Houston.
With reporting by CHUCK ARNOLD