New York’s Radio City Music Hall set the stage for Robert Deniro’s 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival opening night, with a screening of the iconic music executive Clive Davis’ The Soundtrack of our Lives documentary and a live concert celebrating the mega mogul.
The film, directed by Chris Perkel, travels through the five-decade-plus career of Davis as well as the legendary musical acts he helped bring to the world during his tenure at CBS Records, Arista Records and J Records. On Wednesday night (April 19), among 5,000 attendees, Davis took in the huge love he received during scenes of him and Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Kenny G, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys, to name a few. The storyline of this orphaned youngster — who grew into the most influential music man of today — is inspirational and informative for the casual music industry head. The most amazing aspect of the film lied in the cleared photos and music from as far as the 1960s — all rare and pure gold. It’s astounding to see how the music industry functioned and operated in the early days, and the fact that Davis cut his teeth in those times a lawyer.
Following the film’s closing credits, the Radio City crowd was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience, featuring Davis’ short list of incredible acts saluting his life. With Barry Manilow starting off and rocking the piano, Jennifer Hudson followed with a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman.” Her performance of “Hallelujah” brought the place to cheers and tears. Once Earth, Wind, and Fire set up shop with Kenny G, the venue swayed with old school soul.
There is only one Dionne Warwick and she displayed why her timeless classic “That’s What Friends Are For” is one for the ages. Attendees locked arms with loved ones and swayed back and forth. Carly Simon in a bit of her hippy day glory found a way to intermix one of her classics with the children’s favorite (a few kids on stage included to help with the tone) “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” It was definitely a head scratching moment that host for the evening, Whoopi Goldberg, quipped by saying, “Inspiration can come from anywhere.”
Yet, just like old times, the Queen of Soul aka Aretha Franklin sauntered on stage in a sleeveless, white and gold trimmed Disney Princess gown and proceeded to school the people in “Diva Songship 101.” Looking a bit more svelte than usual, Franklin showered Davis with accolades and titles like “humanitarian”, “chieftain” and “friend”, before she ripped through chart-topper, “Natural Woman,” and turning “Freeway of Love” into a gospel hymn with vocal gymnastics.
Watching the performances was a fitting close to a night of highlights from living legends. Shortly after, Davis made his way to the afterparty at Central Park’s famed restaurant Tavern On The Green. The stars who attended the screening and concert popped up at the fabulous spot and ended the night to further celebrate Davis — the man who has helped shape the soundtrack of our lives.