15 Highlights From 20 Years of VH1's Legendary 'Divas'


Patti LaBelle doesn't
call herself a diva
these days because "all these little heifers who
can't sing are called divas," but the soul singer/pie maker/American Horror Story
is back to reclaim the title in VH1’s latest installment of Divas.

Along with goddaughter Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, Vanessa
Williams and Pharrell protégé Teyana Taylor, Patti -- we go by divas’ first names here -- will bring the divadom during VH1's
benefit concert for the Save the Music Foundation, a special holiday-themed
edition called Divas Holiday:Unsilent Night. (The show premieres Dec.
5 at 9 p.m. ET.) 

MORE: 'Mariah's World' Recap: Mariah Carey Recalls 'Great Moments' With James Packer

When the concert series first launched in 1998, the lineup
was the stuff of dreams. Mariah, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain and
Aretha Franklin with special guest Carole King embodied every meaning of the
word diva in lauded performance after
performance. During its 11 iterations over the last two decades, the special
eventually strayed from divas in the traditional sense to include up-and-coming
songstresses, honorary queen Sir Elton John and, in 2012, Pitbull. Yes,

With Unsilent Night
promising to harken back to the show’s original prowess, we look back at these 15
memorable moments from Divas past: 

That Time Aretha
Franklin Stole the Show… Literally 

when Aretha warbled "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
alongside a once-in-a-lifetime lineup that included Mariah, Celine, Gloria,
Shania and Carole King? (Most of) the ladies stood back as an impassioned Aretha
took her time singing, shimmying and storming New York's Beacon Theatre stage,
all the while suggesting her singing companions take a seat in the audience.
That night, Mama Aretha was done babysitting. Carole recalls it happening
just as it appears: "As Aretha will tend to do -- god bless her -- sort
of taking over." But Celine (who Mariah may or may not be referring to in this video) decided
there was room for more than one natural woman on that stage.

‘Divas Live 99’: Best
Entrance Ever 

Can we just have an entire Divas special showcasing Tina Turner's strut? When the "Simply
the Best" rock icon sashayed through the crowd with a friendly smile and a
fierce step, taking the stage with her incredible gams on full display, Divas Live 99’sopening gave us life and new #leggoals. 

This Glorious GIF of
Celine Getting Funky

Her Divas debut was so good to us.


Hello, It's Somebody
Named Adele

The world at large had yet to kneel collectively at the
altar of Adele, but it wouldn't be long after this performance during Divas 2009, when she performed "Hometown
Glory" from her debut album. We have a feeling that even diva skeptic
Patti would approve. 

Mariah's Hair...

As you can see, Mariah's not-so-elusive hair was very
excited to be performing at 1998's Divas
. (Note: Mariah is not
a fan
of her '90s hair.)


...And When She
Dramatically Dropped to the Floor and Then Rose Like the Bravest Human

Who said Mimi couldn't act?

Beyoncé Doesn't Need
Her Earring 

What is it with Beyoncé and earrings? Thirteen years before
the three-time Divas performer rocked a single earring and
a bloody ear
like it was NBD, her flailing hands -- because what else
do you do with them when you're belting "Dangerously in Love"? -- caused
another jewelry malfunction. Watch this whole 2003 performance from Divas Duets -- yes, it's that good -- and
be sure to turn your attention to the 2:45 mark, when Queen Bey hurls her fallen
earring into the crowd.

Aretha Performed
'Chain of Fools' With the Backstreet Boys in 2000


Ciara's Killer M.J.
Dance Tribute 

During a show that also paid tribute to the late Whitney
Houston and Donna Summer, it was Ciara who came to slay -- and walk the
moonwalk -- while honoring Michael Jackson. The pop star eventually got to her single,
"Got Me Good," but it was her fancy "Billie Jean" footwork during
Divas 2012 that set her apart from
the other budding divas that night.

Whatever Patti and
Cyndi Lauper Are Doing Here 

It wasn't
the first time
gal pals Patti and Cyndi sang Lauper’s beloved classic “Time
After Time,” but hearing them revisit the song nearly 30 years later was
sweeter than a piece of Patti's sweet potato pie. Divas collabs are either hit or miss -- or in the case of this
rendition, somewhere in between. Patti appears to be reading Lauper's lips,
seemingly trying to recall the lyrics (hey, 30 years is a long time!), but more
importantly, let's talk about that knock-you-over note Cyndi unleashes at 3:28.
Patti follows her lead, of course. Then Lauper, who makes an "I just lost
all sense of time and place" look, is surprised by what just happened. 

Ellen DeGeneres Raps

The talk show host threw down during her rendition of
Salt-N-Pepa's hit "Shoop" while hosting 2002's Divas Las Vegas. No one was complaining as a swarm of hot male
dancers got bootylicious, even as Ellen hysterically pretends to be interested
in them.

Young Bobbi Kristina
Watching Mother Whitney Sing 

Try not to collapse into a weepy mess while watching Whitney
power through her career staple, "I Will Always Love You," during the
’99 show. The moment was moving not merely because she's feeling every word, but
moreover that Bobbi Kristina (at 7:18) was looking on. It was sweet then and bittersweet

Paula Abdul Dressed as Ellen

If you’d ever wondered what Paula Abdul looks like as Ellen
DeGeneres, after 2009's show you wondered no more. Wearing a short blond wig
and pantsuit while draped over an oversized chair a la the daytime talk show
host, the host and performer
amusingly joshed Ellen for replacing her as a judge on American Idol.

Cher, Tina and Elton
Rock 'Proud Mary' and We. Are. Dead. 

Nice and easy. True to the song, that's how it started. But
then, after Tina got things warmed up with Elton on piano, Divas Live ’99 had us basking in a delicious diva trifecta once Cher --
surprise! -- whirled on out. 

And, Yes, Another
Clip From 1998

Because the original Divas
is legendary and nothing can compare. 

Plus, This Aretha Hip Swivel