Chaka Khan (l) and Mary J. Blige perform during "VH1 Divas Celebrate Soul"

*VH1 may have honored singing divas at its annual ‘VH1 Divas” special, but the night was all about collaboration, reports Billboard. 50 Cent was hand-in-hand with Chaka Khan on the red carpet; Mavis Staples screamed her love for Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine and Ledisi gushed over meeting Martha Reeves.

“It’s exciting. You see me, I’m standing next to the fire,” 50 Cent said, while Khan laughed.

Chaka Khan and her date 50 Cent

The rapper said he called the veteran singer and told her he wanted to be her date. He said he and Khan are working together on music and movie projects.  “Hopefully we’ll be able to put together some movie things because her life story is epic,” he said. “I want to be a part of it.”

Khan added that 50 Cent is “savvy” and she’s excited to learn from the younger generation. “(He) knows the ropes in a way I don’t, in a way I’m looking to. He’ll be giving me a lot of direction in the future,” she said.

Another unconventional pair was Welch and Staples, who told the London singer “I just love you so much.”

“I saw you the other night on ‘X Factor.’ I saw you. I said there she go that machine!” Staples said, laughing along with Welch.

Mavis Staples

Inside the event, there were more pairings, from Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson to Khan, Staples, Jessie J and Erykah Badu. Other performers included Jill Scott, Boyz II Men, Marsha Ambrosius and Estelle.

Erykah Badu and Jill Scott perform onstage during VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul

Estelle,Erykah Badu and Marsha Ambrosius backstage at Hammerstein Ballroom

Boyz II Men

The “VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul” special, which aired Monday, honored cities where soul music has thrived, like Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis, Chicago and London.

Welch joined Nas, Wanda Jackson and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings to pay tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, culminating with Welch’s stirring performance of Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”

Nas speaks onstage during VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul

“It didn’t matter where she was from or what color her skin was, because Amy Winehouse was my true soul sister,” Nas said in the concert special. “I’m here to honor a woman who had enough soul to last a lifetime.”

View more red carpet pics below.

Jill Scott attend the VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City (Dec 19, 2011)

Marsha Ambrosius and Jennifer Hudson


Martha Reeves

Mary J. Blige

Sherri Shepherd with husband Lamar Sally

Emily Bustamante of VH1's "Love & Hip Hop"


Sharon Jones