Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan brought the house down with a duet, Mariah Carey dazzled in red

By Joey Nolfi
December 03, 2016 at 07:39 PM EST
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

‘Tis the season for wigs, sequins, and piping hot vocals, because the VH1 Divas are coming to town.

On Friday night, the network decked the halls of Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre with the likes of Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, Teyana Taylor, Diana Gordon, JoJo, Bebe Rexha, Remy Ma, and more for one of the most festive musical events of the season.

With iconic performances of original tunes and larger-than-life costume changes to covers of time-tested holiday classics, the full VH1 Divas: Unsilent Night program airs Monday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. ET. Until then, check out EW’s highlights from the event below. 

1. Mariah Carey opened the show in a sparkly red number

You can’t do Christmas without a tree, and you can’t celebrate the essence of “diva” without Carey. She’s a fixture on the holiday music scene, and she opened the VH1 special with a spirited rendition of her perennial 1994 hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Casually dropping in atop a giant sleigh in a sea of backup dancers dressed as toy soldiers, Carey shimmied and swirled for the Kings Theatre crowd, clad in a bright red, military-inspired jacket covered in sequins (with a plunging neckline, of course). Though Carey sang only one track, it was enough to bring the house down well before any of her peers took the stage.

2. Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan performed a duet

When it comes to earth-shattering moments in pop culture history, few things speak to humanity’s collective soul than divas duetting with other divas. If you thought nothing could top the spiritual journey Carey and Whitney Houston took audiences on when they performed “When You Believe” at the 1999 Oscars, VH1 Divas: Unsilent Night presented a solid challenge to that iconic moment when living legends LaBelle and Khan performed a cover of the Aretha Franklin hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” — TOGETHER — at the tail end of the show. 

3. Miss Patti hawked her sweet potato pie to the divas backstage 

Divas: they’re just like us. After a long day on the grind, they work up an appetite, too. Luckily for Unsilent Night performers like Carey, JoJo, Williams, and Taylor, LaBelle is the country’s resident queen of reasonably-priced, Walmart-stocked sweet potato pie, and she didn’t show up to Kings Theatre empty-handed. Miss Patti sweetened the season by passing out several pie (and cobbler!) confections to the ladies backstage. 

What could be more delicious than that? LaBelle actually made her fellow performers pose for a photo  — with the desserts in hand. Promo that heavenly cobbler, Miss Patti! 

4. Teyana Taylor purred through a cover of “Santa Baby”

Though she’s still a relative newcomer when compared to Carey, LaBelle, and Khan, Taylor made a strong case for her anointing as a true diva on Friday night, channeling Eartha Kitt for a cover of “Santa Baby.”

Taylor also offered the audience a sneak peek at what goes on inside her house in the weeks leading up to Dec. 25. A short video played on a giant screen behind her, teasing her daughter’s first Christmas at home (she was born nine days before the holiday in 2015) and the playful holiday antics of her husband, Cleveland Cavaliers player Iman Shumpert (“chocolate Santa is here!” he told his wife as they decorated). 

5. LION BABE’s Jillian Hervey gave a touching introduction to her mother, Vanessa Williams

Jillian Hervey got it from her mama. Perched on the balcony at the Brooklyn concert hall, the singer-songwriter (one half of the brilliant pop duo LION BABE) gave an adorable introduction to her mother’s appearance.

“She does it all; A singer, actress, designer, and true diva extraordinaire,” Hervey said as the audience applauded. “She has earned the title, and has also managed to raise me and my siblings at the same damn time.” 

Williams then launched into a gorgeous version of her 1992 smash “Save the Best for Last,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and notched a No. 47 finish on Billboard‘s decade-end chart. 

6. Diana Gordon belted a gorgeous, stripped version of “Jingle Bell Rock” in the vein of Mean Girls

Gordon (formerly known by her stage name “Wynter Gordon,” under which she released some of the best pop music of the last decade) threw it back to 2004 during her set, as the crowd clapped along to her soaring cover of “Jingle Bell Rock,” recalling the hilarious Christmas recital scene from Mean Girls in which Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried perform the tune a cappella (save for the audience’s applause keeping the beat) after a mishap with their boombox.

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