For those of you not living on Earth, you may not have heard the music industry lost a member of their family this past weekend. The legendary Whitney Houston was found dead Saturday afternoon, the eve before the Grammy’s.
I grieve the loss of Whitney much like that of Michael Jackson. They were the soundtrack to my childhood. I remember belting out “Saving All My Love” with my best friends at regular slumber parties.
So, it goes without saying that I was saddened to hear the news. But, as an event planner, I was also intrigued to see how this incident would affect the Grammy’s. Since I work with a team of event planners, you can imagine the fodder around the water cooler Monday morning as we discussed how the Grammy producers responded.
The fact that my fellow planners and I all had different opinions on the subject goes to show how delicately crises need to be handled on site. Sadly, many of us have had experiences with event stakeholders passing away pre-event. It’s the reason our company establishes an emergency management plan for each event.
For what it’s worth, here are some of our comments on how the Grammy producers handled the situation.
- LL Cool J’s opening comments and prayer offering acknowledging the great loss everyone is experiencing. Some felt it went a tad too far, while others applauded his choice of words and honest emotion
- Video of Whitney singing at the Grammy’s in the past. Consensus: Wonderful. Classic. Appropriate.
- Memoriam sequence. Lovely. But, can’t help think some of the other less sensational but equally talented individuals might have been a bit overshadowed. Amy Winehouse anyone?
- Jennifer Hudson tribute. Beautiful, hands down. Everyone agreed.
- Individual acknowledgement of the incident by the presenters…just enough? Too much? Did the event take a turn towards a Whitney memorial or was it a music event celebrating the life of legend?
- The Clive Davis pre-party. This occurred in the same hotel where Whitney passed away, just a few stories above. Should it have been cancelled or again, was this an opportunity to come together and celebrate her life? The organizers chose the latter. My colleagues were divided on this decision.
What do you think? Would you have handled things differently if you were managing the event or serving as a presenter at the Grammy’s? There is no clear right or wrong when it comes to this matter, but sadly it is an opportunity for those of us in the business to learn.