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Music executive and producer Clive Davis has worked with Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson among others.
Clive Davis, author of "The Soundtrack of My Life," recalls when he signed musical legends Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Smith. Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Clive Davis, author of "The Soundtrack of My Life," recalls the first time he ever heard Whitney Houston sing "The Greatest Love of All." Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Clive Davis and Arista records released Whitney Houston's debut album, "Whitney Houston," in 1985. Her strong voice shined on the ballads "The Greatest Love of All" and "Saving All My Love for You."
Jennifer Hudson first entered the spotlight as a contestant on "American Idol" in 2004. In 2006, she starred in the movie musical "Dreamgirls," which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
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In 1985, Houston's first album, Whitney, came out and spawned several No. 1 hits, starting with "Saving All My Love." Houston became one of the top acts of the 1980s and 1990s, and Davis remained her mentor and supporter throughout her career.
In late 1990s,
Davis took a hands-on approach to bringing Carlos Santana back into the popular music scene. He worked on finding collaborators and songs with hit potential for this legendary rock guitarist. The pairing of singer Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and Santana on "Smooth" hit the top of the charts and led to strong sales of the album Supernatural. Supernatural brought Davis his first Grammy win as a producer.
Davis is also good at spotting talent behind the scenes. During his time at Arista, he worked on a number of business ventures. Davis helped L.A. Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds launch LaFace Records as a division of Arista. He also mentored rapper-entrepreneur Sean "Puffy" Combs who formed Bad Boy Records.
Davis stepped down as president of Arista in 2000. That same year, he launched J Records. His new label featured such established and emerging stars as Luther Vandross and Alicia Keys. That same year, Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Patti Smith for his contributions to the industry.
In 2002, Davis became the president and CEO of RCA Music Group, which included his J Records label. He continued to be active in his work with new artists, serving as a producer for two American Idol sensations, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson. Mergers and restructuring led to another job change for Davis in 2008. He became the chief creative officer for Sony BMG, now called Sony Music Entertainment.
Davis has remained a loyal supporter of many of the acts he discovered over the years. In 2009, he helped Whitney Houston with her comeback album I Look To You, which reached the top of the charts. Only a few years later, Davis lost his longtime protégée. Houston's death occurred just a day before the Grammy Awards in 2012. At his annual pre-Grammy party, he told those gathered that "I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life."
Now approaching his eighth decade, Davis shows no signs of slowing down. He remains an influential force in the music world. Davis is also active in a number of charitable and educational endeavors. In 2005, he gave $5 million to New York University to Department of Recorded Music and serves as an advisor to the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music there.
This father of four is also dedicated to his family. He gathers once a week with his children and grandchildren and takes several trips with them each year. "I don't want to be loving strangers. We want to be able to grow through life together meaningfully," Davis once told Esquire magazine.
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