Sleigh bells rang when VH1 announced that its Divas franchise would make its comeback after a four-year break. For the Unsilent Night special, airing Monday night (Dec. 5) on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET, the network called on top-tier talent including Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Teyana Taylor, Diana Gordon, Remy Ma and Vanessa Williams for a festive show filled with glittery gowns, soulful pipes and holiday spirit.
Below, VH1 and Logo’s executive vice president and deputy general manager Amy Doyle, who also served as executive producer for Unsilent Night, discusses VH1 Divas’ comeback, the definition of a “diva” and plans for the blockbuster franchise to return next year.
How did the decision to bring back VH1 Divas for the holidays come about?
When we first got to VH1 over a year ago, it was obvious that Divas is a franchise that is beloved and had been missed. People were clamoring for us to bring it back. To do that, we knew it had to have a special hook that would make it stand out and also help us reinvent the franchise. Chris McCarthy, president of VH1, MTV and Logo, came up with the holiday theme, which we all felt was a no-brainer.
What was the criteria for the big names involved in this year’s production?
To us, the performers we chose had to embody the positive definition of “diva”: women who are successful because of their amazing talent, glamour and unique sassiness. We knew we had to have iconic divas like Patti, Chaka, Vanessa and Mariah, and we also wanted to use the platform for artist discovery moments and shine the spotlight on emerging divas like Teyana Taylor, JoJo and Diana Gordon.
Describe some of the challenges you and your team faced in putting together a holiday show.
It’s always tricky to find a good date during the holidays because it’s such a crowded time of year.
How did VH1 pair the holiday songs with each performer?
It was a collaborative effort with the artists where we’d make suggestions but ultimately it had to feel organic to each artist’s spirit. With Mariah, there was no question what she was going to do.
Any plans to bring back the VH1 Divas franchise next year?
Absolutely! We set out to start a new holiday tradition, and based on the early feedback, it seems like we’ve accomplished that!