PHEW! We’re just now catching our breath after the enthralling conclusion to tonight’s premiere of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, which saw the funky disco pop legend Chaka Khan and the Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige fuse their powers together, Voltron style, for an unbelievable rendition of Chaka’s 1983 smash “Ain’t Nobody.” The song hit #1 on the R&B charts back when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House, but it’s most memorably known for being the soundtrack to one of the finest montages of early eighties cinema in Breakin. Or, should we say, “formerly most memorable,” because Mary J and Chaka’s duet tonight instantly became THE defining version of the song the second the song wrapped.
TYRONE! There have been many highlightable moments during tonight’s broadcast of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, but we can’t help but feel like Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan‘s triple threat take on The Staples Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There.” It was clear from the outset that these three were vibing off each other and connecting on a deep level, and by the time Mavis started laying down some serious STANK and shouting out “I’m Every Woman” and “Call Tyrone,” we knew this was gonna be a moment we wouldn’t soon forget.
Florence Welch, lead chanteuse of Florence + The Machine, is certainly one of the MVPs of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul. She performed three songs tonight: “Shake It Out” (the new single off the band’s Ceremonials), “Back To Black” (as part of the evening’s Amy Winehouse tribute), and “Walking On Broken Glass” (which you can watch below).
Here, we put a spotlight on Florence’s haunting cover of the title track of album that turned Amy Winehouse into an international superstar back in 2007. She cut quite a figure with her floor length black dress, which was incredibly appropriate considering the circumstances. The music world lost an immense talent this year with Amy’s tragic passing, but thanks to powerful performances like Florence Welch’s tonight, Winehouse’s musical legacy is cemented in stone.
Follow along for Florence’s jubilant take on Annie Lennox‘s “Walking On Broken Glass.”
We told you so! Earlier today, we gave you a sneak peak at the cold open of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul and told you it was the hottness. Well, now that you’ve all seen the whole clip —the show is on RIGHT NOW, people!— you seem to agree. We just checked Twitter a few seconds ago and we saw that Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Kelly Clarkson‘s performance of “You Keep Me Hanging On,” “Spotlight,” “Real Love,” and “Since U Been Gone” was dominating five of the Top 10 trending topics.
By popular demand, here’s the video of this historic moment that you can watch over and over and over again. Remember, if you’re gonna tweet about the show tonight, be sure to use the hashtag #VH1DIVAS.
Look, we know we’ve got DIVAS fever, and we know we’ve been gushing relentlessly about VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul (airing tonight on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT), but that’s because it’s all just so good. Obviously, we can see where we might be a little bit biased, and why you might not entirely believe our unabashedly praising the show, but you don’t need to take our word for it. It turns out everyone is talking about DIVAS, so here’s what some of the most prolific industry people and news mediums had to say about DIVAS (hint: there’s a lot of love in the quotes below!)…
“In a section dedicated to Chicago, Mavis Staples, Chaka Khan and Erykah Badu turned in an ecstatic version of Staples’ “I’ll Take You There” that played out like a master class in vocal control, Staples doling out rich, low notes until the song’s closing moments, where she slyly quoted both Badu’s “Tyrone” and Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” During a segment centered on the music of Chicago, Badu and Khan performed “Ain’t Nobody” as a series of escalating peaks, each vocalist goading the other with a series of increasingly stunning melismatic runs before ending the song in a sustained, emotional embrace.” [Rolling Stone]
“This VH1 Divas show is 1 of da best shows I’ve seen all year after only 2 performances!!!” [Common, via Twitter]
One of the most memorable moments from last night’s taping of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul ended up being one that had never even been rehearsed before the cameras started rolling. When you watch Ledisi and Marsha Ambrosius duet on “Sweet Love” tonight at 9 p.m. ET on VH1, you’re gonna think that the two singers had been practicing together for weeks. However, the truth of the matter is that the whole number came together just over an hour before showtime. Say what?
“I was headed to go to the red carpet and the producers and the music director and my manager all came rushing to my room,” Ledisi explained to us on a phone call earlier this afternoon. “I was asked ‘Can you sing ‘Sweet Love’?” and I was like, ‘Stop playin! [laughs] Anita Baker’s singing that’. But then they told me ‘No, this is serious.’ And I was like “Oh my God, yeah sure, sure, if you need me, I’ll do it.’ I didn’t ask what happened because I didn’t want to be in the middle of that — you know, I’m just new, I just want to sing my little two songs and get off stage. But then all of a sudden here’s a third song, so I just wanted to pay proper respect to Miss Anita Baker and not do too much and you know, share in the moment, so it was a lot of fun. I really was honored to be asked, they could have asked someone else but they asked me and Marsha sand the first verse and I was so appreciative of the whole experience, it was like a dream. Like, is this real? Like I left there — ‘Did that just really happen’?”
We spent most of this weekend hanging around New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, checking out the rehearsals for VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul (which, if you haven’t heard yet, is airing TONIGHT on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET). We were lucky enough to grab some time with some of this year’s featured performers as they prepared for the show, and one of the questions we were most curious about was what gave the cities that they hail from so much soul.
First up, we asked Philly natives Jill Scott, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Adam Blackstone their thoughts on why the City of Brotherly Love (the latter two of whom served as the Musical Directors of the show) was the most soulful city in the world. Jill Scott reckoned it has something to do with “dirty water” of the Schuylkill River, while Questlove and Adam explained that the city’s proximity to New York City forced the musical community to diversify their sound to establish their own unique identity.
Just moments before the taping of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul last night, our girl Kelly Clarkson managed to sprain her ankle. Never one to let a broken thing deter her —ankles, hearts, it’s all the same, really!— Kelly powered on through the entire show, performing like a true professional. Even Questlove gave Kelly props for her stoicism when he tweeted, “Shoutout to Kelly Clarkson for goin in like a mofo trooper and with twisted ankle & all kickin arse & takin names. #vh1divas.”
So what happened? Well, Kelly took to WhoSay last night to explain. “Funny part of the evening is I twisted my ankle in a pair of heels right before the show started in a freakin pot hole on the street!,” she wrote. “Hurt like hell but still one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been a part of!” That’s why we love our Kelly — instead of indulging in self-pity, she powers through and gives every single one of her performances 100% energy and effort.
Hey, have you heard the news? VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is premiering tonight on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET, and take it from us (because we were there): It is a DOOZY of a show. However, what we’re going to share with you right now isn’t something that you’re going to see tonight. Our VH1 Tuner photographer extraordinaire, Miss Lauren Deiman, was the ONLY photographer on hand during yesterday afternoon’s dress rehearsals at midtown Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom, and she was able to capture these stunning images of world class talents like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, and Jessie J practicing their performances one final time before the big show kicked off. Enjoy this exclusive and truly intimated look behind the scenes of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul.
You’re pumped for VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, right? The show airs TONIGHT on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, but we filmed our divas yesterday and we’ve got to tell you — you’re in for a real treat! We’re about to dangle the carrot too, and give you a little glimpse of what you can expect from tonight’s broadcast; we gave you a tease last night by giving you the official list of performances, but now we’ve got a little video to whet your appetite. Tonight’s show opens with three radiant divas — Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson — singing “Keep Me Hanging On,” and these lovely ladies do nothing less than bring the house down with their rendition of this Supremes classic. Tune-in tonight at 9 p.m. to catch this entire performance and many more! (Oh, and btw, if you’re tweeting, don’t forget to use the hashtag #VH1DIVAS.)