Usually when your boss asks you to accompany him to a business meeting you end up in some stuffy board room for hours with a bunch of people you’ve never seen or heard of before, hashing out the details of some project that only your company will ever really know or care about the intricacies of. But when your boss is a living legend in the entertainment industry, a request like that looks completely different.
So it was this past weekend when my boss asked me to be a part of the “posse” accompanying him to the Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party, which is the music industry equivalent of Elton Johns’ post-Oscar party.
So on this night the “stuffy board room” was actually the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills and although I was there for hours, I was with a bunch people that I have heard of either all my life or have heard of in my life lately, all the time.
From the moment we exited the elevator to the time came to sit down to dinner there was an air of intense scrutiny that I’d never experienced before.
Rarely, if ever, are even the most subtle of glances and movements photographed so constantly and your movements documented and telegraphed so globally. I was fortunate enough to be both in it and out of it. Simultaneously I was an observer and a participant while reaping the benefits of both. I got to see, meet and experience incredible icons and rising stars as well as legendary personalities the shape the music and entertainment industry while retaining my privacy and anonymity.
You’d think it would be really awesome to have such attention focused on you. but most times when you fantasize about what that experience is like you never imagine the lack of intimacy, the intense jostling from one place to the next and done by people who only know you as an object that needs to be moved quickly from place to place to place to place to place to place to place, on and on for hours. The conversations you have are brief and have no real opportunity to achieve any depth, the people you meet in person are rarely as you’ve imagined them, Also it’s a really interesting phenomenon to meet someone you’ve known of so completely that you really feel like you know them, only to discover that they have NO knowledge of anything about YOU. You find yourself awkwardly relating to them based on things that you’ve heard of or read about them that, to them, may mean nothing, or what’s worse, might not even be true.
It’s also crazy to see these people doing their evening of celebration only to discover the next day, every detail of the evening’s events is plastered over the internet, newspapers and television.
For instance, I saw Chris Brown and Rhianna sitting about 50 feet from me, enjoying a great evening together and for a moment they were even watching me perform. It all seemed peaceful and friendly and the two of them seemed convivial and content. Apparently only moments after I last saw them, something happened between them that has now become EXTREMELY newsworthy, and has changed the course of both of their lives forever, and everyone knows about it!!
Needless to say, I’m pretty glad that I subdued my need to cut one while shaking Carrie Underwood’s hand. (She has no idea about the bullet she dodged).
However, I gotta admit, it was worth it all to be introduced to a band I’d never heard of only to hear them play live, 50 feet in front of me, and be floored by them only to discover that they were the well known rock band The Kings of Leon.
Furthermore it was also a pleasure to meet someone that I knew of vaguely only to discover to that he was someone that I’d love to sit down with and have a conversation (my favorite pastime). This particular person is an artist named Akon. He was the first person I met and within moments I could feel the sincerity and truth in his smile, proximity and demeanor. He was both a gentleman and a charismatic personality, but more than that, he looked me in the eye and actually HEARD what I said to him.
In between that meeting and my brief yet infamous meeting with The Artist I bumped into or met Jimmy Jam, Trace Adkins, Randy Jackson (American Idol), Katie Perry (who is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS and definitely a STAR), Chris Tucker, Mary Mary, The Jonas Brothers, Tracy Ullman, David Foster, Kelli Clarkson, Rod Stewart, Kimora Lee Simmons, Russell Simmons,Penny Marshall, Paul McCartney, Annie Lenox, Herbie Hancock, Burt Bacharach, Kanye West, Duffy, Fantasia, Chris Daughtry and, of course, my girl Jennifer Hudson.
Also sitting backstage with Josh Groban (who is an AWESOME guy), Faith Evans and P Diddy (and his HUGE entourage), Leona Lewis, as well as Jamie Foxx, Babyface and L.A. Reid, was a treat for me.
The most interesting moment though, was standing 10 feet from Whitney Houston just before she went out to sing. To see, through the crowd of people that accompany her, an American legend and an entertainment industry darling experiencing her moments of pre-performance jitters was very humanizing. Then to watch her, in close proximity, stand among her peers and perform in front of the greatest artists, past and present, that have ever lived, and PROVE HERSELF yet again, after all she’s been through and accomplished, by singing past all their expectations of possible failure and flame-out and once again earn the respect of an industry that was not so sure what’s left of the once lauded Diva of the R&B and Pop world.
Yeah, it was well worth it all to sit among those that have inspired me for years and those who entertain me even now and know that I, in some capacity, belong there, and to have this pride in knowing that among those artists I sit humbly, gratefully and proudly.
Yeah, you gotta love going to a business with your boss, especially when your boss is a living legend creating history RIGHT NOW.