Sunday night (December 18), some of the music industry's most-soulful divas will be taking the stage for the latest installment of "VH1 Divas." For some, like Kelly Clarkson, it's a return engagement, but for others, like Florence and the Machine leading lady Florence Welch, it's the chance to display diva-like prowess for the first time.
Since the show kicked off in 1998, it's had a long history of getting some of the biggest female performers in the world on the same stage belting out some of pop's best tunes. That first show gathered Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey, quickly becoming a pop-culture milestone. It even prompted the ladies of "Saturday Night Live" to poke fun at the over-the-top singing styles and personalities of the women chosen for the show.
In the 11 years since the premiere episode of the concert special, everyone from old-school belters to new-school singing sensations have been billed as "divas." The show ran annually until 2004, after which it took a break for several years. By the time the show was re-launched in 2009, a whole new crop of pop superstars had emerged. In '09, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, Adele and Miley Cyrus proved their diva status, taking the stage and ushering in a new era.
A year later, in 2010, Nicki Minaj, Sugarland, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Keri Hilson, Paramore and Katy Perry brought some new-millennium glamour to the show. That year, the show was dedicated to supporting soldiers and billed "VH1 Divas Salute the Troops" event.
This year's show, airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT Monday on VH1, will bring Clarkson, Welch, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott and Jessie J to the stage. In a tribute introduced by Nas, Welch, Wanda Jackson, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings will honor late soul singer Amy Winehouse.
VH1 also will pay tribute to the prominent birthplaces of soul music, including Chicago, Detroit, London, Philadelphia and Memphis, Tennessee. The divas are expected to pay homage to these cities and the genre with their own soulful tracks as well as some of soul music's classic tunes onstage at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. And the celebration is not exclusive to women: The Roots have been confirmed as the event's house band, and ?uestlove is set to pull double duty as musical director. Boyz II Men and Travie McCoy also will perform.
"VH1 Divas" airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Monday on VH1.