Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. Perhaps it was the clues that threw them off, from images of pizza, a plaid teddy bear, white socks, hairspray and a queen chess piece. If they had any sense -- like our Masked Singer recapper -- they probably would have put two and two together and figured out it was none other than superstar Chicago native Yvette Marie Stevens.
That's Queen of Funk Chaka Khan to you, the 10-time Grammy-winning voice behind "I Feel for You," "Tell Me Something Good," "I'm Every Woman" and "Ain't Nobody." Billboard caught up with Khan before her elimination to find out how she ended up on the show, what her favorite part of going behind the mask was and why she will never, ever do anything like this again.
How does a legend like you end up on a show like this?
I was talking to someone who had something to do with the show... I forget who asked me would I like to do it and I had seen some of it and I thought it was clever. I just said, "Why not?" I thought the clever thing was that it was not all singers. There were basketball players... not all artists and singers. I thought that threw it for a loop and would make it more interesting.
You’ve been doing this for almost 50 years. Where does this land on your weird gigs list?
What was the hardest part of performing in the costume?
Performing in that costume. That was the hardest thing to do, and being incognito backstage.
Were the Bobbie Gentry and Lesley Gore songs your call? They're not the ones people most associate with you. Were they an attempt to throw people off the scent?
No. These are some of my favorite songs that I sang as a kid and ones that I've always sung! Lesley Gore? I love that song!
You participated in a special Valentine's group sing of Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Nite." Is it safe to say that was your first time singing a Kiss song in public?
Oh yes, I have to say that.
Not shading the other contestants, but you are a legend with a legendary voice and a shelf full of Grammys. Are you surprised you went home so early in the season?
I don’t think I got sent home; they just couldn't guess who I was. They didn't know who the hell I was!
Some of the panel's guesses included Dolly Parton, Mary J. Blige, Dionne Warwick and Mary Wilson. That sounds like a killer girl group to me.
They even guessed some dead people. It was crazy. And yeah, [that group] would be hot.
Who did you tell your secret to before you were unmasked?
My mother. I had to tell my mom. And that's about it... and my people and my crew. They had to know.
What's your favorite part of doing the show?
Don’t ask me that. Oy vey! What part did I really enjoy? It was really a labor of love... some kind of labor. It was really harder than I thought it would it be. It's a lot of work.
Let's break down those clues. They seemed kind of hard, but also pretty obvious if you really thought about it, right?
The pizza meant Chicago, and the Bears and the [White] Sox. And 10 was my 10 Grammys. They weren't that hard. A little girl told me, she's about 12, said she was watching and she knew it was me. She said, "It sounds like it's you, Auntie Chaka!"
Were there other people who figured it out?
I had a few. If you go online a lot of people thought it was me... everybody but the people that were judges. Everybody but them!
Is there something you take away with you from this experience?
Yes. That I'll never do anything like that again.
I appreciate your honesty.
I'm an honest girl.