[This story contains spoilers from season two, episode nine of Fox’s The Masked Singer.]
The mix of celebrities cast in season two of Fox’s bizarro reality competition The Masked Singer has included talk show hosts, athletes, comedians and actors, but the person unmasked Wednesday night in the ninth episode of its sophomore run is a seasoned musician whose voice was nearly instantly recognizable for at least one of the judges.
By the time the Flower removed her mask for host Nick Cannon, judges Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong all knew that it was Patti LaBelle underneath, or “The Last Flower,” as the Godmother of Soul referred to herself when she spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her elimination.
The four singers who went head-to-head in the episode included the Leopard and the Flamingo, followed by a matchup between the Flower and the Rottweiler. Much like the first rounds of the season, the Leopard and the Flower competed in a final battle, with the Leopard ultimately moving forward in the competition and the Flower, aka LaBelle, going home.
“Really, really beautiful singers. I was hoping I would figure out who they were, but I couldn’t,” LaBelle told THR (she’ll have to watch the season with the rest of the cast to figure out who she was up against).
In addition to discussing her time on the show, LaBelle also touched on the state of the music industry today, which current singers are her favorite and why she’s never stopped touring.
Why did you decide to do this show? You don’t really have to prove anything to anybody.
Every time my son would ask me about The Masked Singer, I was hesitant. I said, “I’m not sure I could be in those costumes like that,” and we kept going back and forth and I finally said, “OK, I’ll do it.” You know, I did Dancing With the Stars at 71. So I said to myself, “I might as well do this at 75.”
How far did you expect to go in the competition?
I had no clue. Because I sounded just like me. I really thought I would be booted off the second week because Patti LaBelle was all over the place. I know Robin knew, and, well, they all knew it was me from what they told me after I lost. (Laughs.) I didn’t know how far I would go, but I was glad to take off that costume, honey. Those shoes!
How was that costume to wear? It was also a body-hugging dress with a huge mask.
It was heavy, but I felt like a flower. The costume department, they did such beautiful work. So I felt good even when I was in pain, you know?
Beauty is pain, right? Did you know exactly what the show entailed? Did you watch it in the first season?
Yes, I had watched it, with Gladys Knight and T-Pain. When I said yes, I couldn’t even call Gladys and ask her what she thinks about all the costumes and all this stuff because she didn’t know I was on the show. I was excited to do it. I mean, that’s why I did say yes. And I said yes to the dress, too!
How do you think these reality competition singing shows have impacted the music industry?
Well, from what you see there’s so many shows on and I think it’s giving people different ways of seeing singers and hearing singers and hearing different music. There’s all kind of stuff going on with music, like the Jamie Foxx show [Beat Shazam]. Just so many things with music. I don’t know if I answered your question, but music is all over the TV.
If you were coming up today, do you think you would have gone on one of those shows?
Maybe! You never know.
Some of the talent that those shows have produced have gone on to have really successful careers, whether they’ve won or got kicked out early.
It’s true. I mean, like Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer [Hudson] and all those singing girls, you know, they got jobs for life now because of these shows.
You’ve done so much in your career — what do you hope to do after this?
I’m too old for that, honey. It’s fun to do things like that, but the show won’t [change] the rest of my life. It was just one of those things that I said ‘yes, I can,’ like I said [yes to] Dancing With the Stars, things that people don’t expect a 70-year-old woman to do. Or a 75-year-young woman to do. But I did it, and I was happy while I was there.
Do you hope to get some younger fans who weren’t necessarily familiar with you before?
Sure! The audience I have now, they’re from 8 to 80, black, white, straight, gay, all types of people. Everybody comes to the show. A lot of it had to do with Dancing With the Stars, because when I ask the audience how many people are seeing me for the first time, about 80 percent raise their hands and clap. So it sure helps you get another audience. Somebody might be interested, after seeing you on The Masked Singer, in coming to your real shows.
What’s your take on the music industry and the entertainment industry in general these days? It’s such a different place than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago. That’s admittedly a very wide-ranging question.
It surely is! I’ve been in it for how long? Sixty years performing, and I see changes all the time. I never know if we’re going to ever go back to when real music was real music. Because a lot of things today, they’re very — if a song, the title is “Get It Now” or something, you’re going to hear “get it now” the whole record, no substance. So there’s still some growth. And I hope that it goes back to substance.
Yes. In the songwriting.
There are definitely some talented vocalists out there who still use filters and processing and they can sing, so why are they doing all of that?
Because some of them can’t really sing. I’m not saying it to knock anyone because that’s their hustle. And if you can get by with “Get It Now” and say it over and over and over and the record sells, then you did your job. But I’m still looking for substance.
Who are some of your favorites right now?
I love John Legend. I love Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia. I mean they sing sing. I love [sings] “Hello from the other side” — I love it. Adele. I love her and Alicia Keys. I mean, there are some singers out there who are singing songs, and I love them.
What’s next for you? You seem to be up for adventure and trying new things.
Oh, honey, I’ve never stopped touring. We leave tomorrow to do Tamron Hall, Kelly Clarkson. This week I’m doing some TV with those guys. And I never stopped touring, so then we go back out next Wednesday.
So in the foreseeable future you’re still touring, still singing?
Recording, touring and everything that a 30-year-old woman can do, I’m still doing it. I’m blessed, honey. That’s what it is. I’m blessed.
Your voice is so recognizable, so you knew people were going to recognize you that way. But were you surprised they didn’t pick up on some of the clues?
Well, they did! Robin, he knew. Mariah’s ex-husband [Cannon] knew. Everybody knew it was me, but I guess they couldn’t say it the first week or second week. I think they wanted me to hang around for a minute or something. On the street or flight attendants, [people would say] “Hey, Flower.” So I’m so happy that I don’t have to lie anymore.
The Masked Singer returns Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.