The special concert is kicked off by Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson before moving forward to honoring the soulful cities and wrapping up with a medley tribute to Nas' 'home girl.'
It's a soulful night on VH1 during the airing of its "Divas" concert on Monday night, December 19. Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Florence and the Machine, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott and Jessie J stepped out to pay homage to the places, like Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis and Philadelphia, where soul music originated and ultimately flourished.
The celebration night, which took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, kicked off with Kelly, Mary J. and J-Hud showing off their pipes in a joint rendition of The Supremes' classic "You Keep Me Hangin' On". They followed it up with a joint medley of their own tracks, "Since U Been Gone", "Real Love" and "Spotlight".
The first city to get a special tribute that night was Memphis. J-Hud returned to the stage with Jessie to honor the city. The two led off the medley tribute with their take on Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood" before Erykah Badu and Chaka Khan joined Mavis Staples on her classic "I'll Take You There".
Detroit was also celebrated in a sublime set. Sharon Jones, Marsha Ambrosius, Martha Reeves opened it by doing Martha's "Nowhere to Run", before Ledisi and Kelly followed with a rendition of Detroit native Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools". Additionally, Ledisi teamed up with Marsha to deliver Anita Baker's classic "Sweet Love".
The boys came out to support a tribute segment for Philadelphia. Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy supported Estelle in "Wake Up Everybody", Boyz II Men catered the crowd with a soulful rendition of "Motownphilly", while Jill was accompanied by Erykah and Black Thought in "You Got Me".
In honoring Chicago, Sharon and Ledisi did "Rescue Me", while Mary J. and Chaka played "Ain't Nobody". Moving to the London tribute, Estelle joined forces with Erykah, Marsha and Questlove in "Back to Life" before the city's native singer Florence Welch took on Scottish singer Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass".
In between the tribute medleys, each of the headliners performed a solo set of their own. Florence treated the concertgoers with a fiery and arousing rendition of tribal-sounding "Shake It Out". J-Hud did "Night of Your Life", Jill launched "Hear My Call", Kelly offered "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)", Jessie J played "Domino", while Mary J. sang "Mr. Wrong".
The night was closed with a special tribute to Amy Winehouse. The segment was introduced by Nas who made a duet with the late singer in her first posthumous album "Lioness: Hidden Treasures". "It didn't matter where she was from or what the color of her skin was, because Amy Winehouse was my true soul sista," he said.
"Now I'm proud, we finally together on a song called 'Like Smoke.' And I'm here to honor a woman who had enough soul to last a lifetime. I wish she was here tonight, but like smoke, Amy Winehouse is still in the air lingering around all of us, and she'll be here for a long time to come," he added. "I'm here to honor a woman who had enough soul to last a lifetime."
The sublime tribute was opened with Sharon & The Dap-Kings who shared the stage with Wanda Jackson. They played Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" from her second studio album "Back to Black". The performance was followed by Florence who offered her own version of the album's title track.
Opening Set Medley:
Amy Winehouse Tribute: