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The Mouse Knew Her 'Masked Singer' Days Were Numbered: Exit Interview

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Greg Gayne/FOX

The Mouse on The Masked Singer.

The singer eliminated on Wednesday night's show was a legendary R&B diva whose voice was just too recognizable to last.

[Spoiler alert: This story contains the identity of the eliminated contestant on Wednesday night's (Feb. 26) The Masked Singer.]

Now this one just didn’t make any sense. For the second time in three weeks, The Masked Singer scratched out a classic diva on Wednesday night. After sending home amateur singer and skateboard legend Tony Hawk last week, the anonymous singing contest dropped yet another icon, this time a five-time Grammy winner who went down following the earlier eliminations of Lil Wayne, beloved comedian/game show host Drew Carey and Chaka Khan.

The fifth episode of season 3 had Mouse going up against Frog, Kitty, Taco and Banana, with the judges raining praise on the adorable rodent’s note-perfect cover of soul singer Oleta Adams’ Grammy-nominated take on Brenda Russell’s “Get Here.” That smash came a week after the blinged-out murine brought down the house with Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).”

The clues were confusing: a football, the year 1979, the stage as her “second home,” prayer hands, The Love Boat and needlepoint. Nicole Scherzinger had a hunch it might be girl group legend Darlene Love, while Ken Jeong was absolutely certain it was triple threat Maya Rudolph, or, after some very twisted logic involving James Bond and tree nuts, Tina Turner. But he’s always wrong, so ignore him. Robin Thicke was confused, dubbing her tone as “not like anyone,” which led Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg to suggest daughter-of-diva Tracey Ellis Ross.

As it turns out, Thicke and Scherzinger actually nailed it. Billboard spoke to chart giant Dionne Warwick before her elimination to find out how the “Then Came You” singer ended up on the show and why she had to laugh at one of the judge’s super-close-but-no-cigar guesses.

One of the fun things about talking to the eliminated contestants on this show is getting their reactions to the wrong guesses. But early on, Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger suspected that it was you under that Mouse head. Were you surprised?

No. Those who are in the industry, I think it was a given. That’s the only thing about my voice: Everybody always recognizes it immediately.

You really do have such a distinctive tone. Did you try to change the way you moved or gestured to throw them off?

There’s only so much movement you can do in those costumes. No, I didn’t try to do anything different than I normally do.

Is this the strangest gig you’ve ever had?

It certainly is.

There were definitely some weird singing shows you appeared on in the 1960s and '70s, and this one was stranger than those?

Yes, there was nothing like this at all.

In the first series of this season they thought Chaka Khan was you. Was that funny to you?

Yeah, and Nicole said Darlene Love, which is funny because Darlene worked with me for many, many years [as one of my backup singers]. That was something for her to come up with that guess!

Definitely, and between you, Chaka and Patti Labelle last season, not going to lie to you, it seems like classic R&B divas are having a bit of a tough time hanging around on this show, no?

I think after all these years… I’ve been in this industry [a long time] and people have heard us sing so much it’s hard not to know who we are.

So why the Mouse? What spoke to you about that costume?

The cute face. The face was too adorable to say no to and the elegance of the costume itself. I’ve been known for my stage dress.

A lot of people I’ve spoken to say they appeared on Masked Singer for their kids or grandkids. So be honest: Who’s idea was it for you to do this show?

My son, who manages me. He fell in love with the show early on and he coaxed me into doing it.

What was that coaxing like?

He said, “Mommy, why don’t you do this? Two of your best friends have done it, why don’t you?” He was talking about Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.

Did you talk to them first to find out what to expect?

No, I didn’t even know they had done it until I started. But of course I knew who they were [once I saw them on the show]. I would know Gladys' or Patti’s voice anywhere.

Did you find the costume hard to move around in?

Not to move around in, but just keeping that head on straight… it’s quite… mobile.

Did you get a chance to tune in before you came on? What was your impression?

Yes, I did watch the episode with Gladys! I thought it was really a cute show and it was adorable and it puts your friends to work.

Were there any people who texted you after the first episode like, “I know it’s you!”

Yeah, I got a lot of that! [Laughs]

Anyone notable?

[Silence]

Would you rather not say?

Yes.

You picked a song by Natalie Cole. Is it safe to assume that was a tribute to your old friend?

Yes, absolutely. Natalie was a very dear friend.

The guesses were all over the place, from Maya Rudolph to Darlene Love and Tina Turner. What a group of women to be included in!

Certainly was. That was quite a compliment.

Did anyone in your family guess it was you after the first episode?

Yes [laughs], my eldest son did.

Do you have a favorite other performer who has been on the show?

I saw one of the very first episodes of the show when it first came on and the young man who was a football player [former Steelers player Antonio Brown], he was really fun.

Do you appreciate the fact that there’s such a big mix of stars on the show, from comedians and athletes to pure singers like you?

Absolutely, it makes it a lot of fun and it gives it makes the show much more interesting.


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