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Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson ‘Salute the Troops’

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

In 1941, Bob Hope performed the first USO show at March Field, California. The purpose of his shtick was to provide support and entertainment for troops serving abroad. Sixty-nine years later, the USO, in partnership with VH1, entertained the men and women in service with Sunday night’s ‘VH1 Divas: Salute the Troops.’ Taking place from an airport hanger on the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., it featured performances from Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Katy Perry, Paramore, Sugarland, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals with members of Heart.

Nicki Minaj received one of the biggest roars of applaud, when she took the stage in a blond afro and neon outfit to perform her sweet and softer single ‘Right Thru Me.’ She would later do Cyndi Lauper proud, covering the track ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ in a duet with Perry. Keri Hilson, pumped up the thousands in the audience, and those watching from airport bases from Kuwait to Afghanistan, with a hip-thrusting performance of her self-confident single ‘Pretty Girl Rock.’ Hilson took the stage again minutes later with Sugarland, swapping soulful vocals with Jennifer Nettles on Aretha Franklin’s ‘Think.’

Earlier in the night, Hilson, Nettles and Perry opened the show, originally taped on Dec. 3, with ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.’ Nettles and her band also invited MC Lyte, who weighed in on the Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj feud backstage, during their performance of ‘Stuck Like Glue.’ Grace Potter stunned the crowd with not only her vintage rock n roll, but her hair-whipping and trademark minidress. Katy Perry closed the show out with ‘Fireworks,’ literally.

“I want to thank you so much,” Hilson told the crowd, breathless after her performance, “because if it wasn’t for each and every one of you, we could not be here and have the freedom to do what we do.” She then saluted the screaming crowd with her dancers.

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