Clive Davis mourns Whitney Houston at Grammy party

Feb 12, 2012 at 11:58 a.m. ET

The music industry -- and the world -- is reeling over the death of legendary singer Whitney Houston. Her mentor, Arista Records founder Clive Davis, paid tribute to the tragic figure at his annual pre-Grammy party last night.

Clive Davis and Whitney HoustonMusic industry icon Clive Davis paid tribute to Whitney Houston last night at his annual pre-Grammy party, and the close personal friend of the singer could barely contain his sadness as he addressed the crowd.

"By now you have all learned of the unspeakably tragic news of our beloved Whitney's passing," Davis said at the start of the gathering, which Houston was supposed to attend. "I don't have to mask my emotion in front of a room full of so many dear friends. I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years."

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"Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn't scheduled to perform. She loved music and she loved this night that celebrates music."

"My heart goes out to her daughter Bobbi Kristina, to her mother Cissy, to all of her relatives and to so many of you here tonight, her extended family who loved and cherished her and her spirit."

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"Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on."

"I ask that you join me in a moment of silence as we dedicate this evening to Whitney."

Houston performed from the time she was a child and sang backup for the Michael Zager Band, Chaka Khan, Lou Rawls, Jermaine Jackson and her mother Cissy Houston as a teen. Davis discovered Houston's astounding vocal talent at a small performance at a New York City nightclub and signed her to his label Arista Records immediately.

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"The time I first saw her singing in her mother's act at a club called Sweetwaters right here in Manhattan… it was such a stunning impact," Davis told Diane Sawyer in 2009 on Good Morning America.

"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song, I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine."

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Houston became one of the biggest selling artists in music history under Davis' guidance.

"I call him my father in the industry, because he is, he guides me," Houston told Access Hollywood in 2009.

Grammy organizers have confirmed that Jennifer Hudson, another Davis protegé, will perform a tribute to Houston at tonight's Grammy Awards.

Image courtesy Nikki Nelson / WENN

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