SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched “The Masked Singer” Season 6, Episode 11, “Group A Finale,” which aired December 2 on Fox.
“The Masked Singer” has gotta have Faith. Singer Faith Evans was unmasked as the Skunk on the eleventh episode of Season 6, “Group A Finale.” She didn’t stink — actually, the show’s panelists argued that her performance might be one of the best in “Masked Singer” history. But nonetheless, with the Group A finals coming down to her and the Bull, the Skunk lost out.
Because it was just down to two finalists, after performing their initial songs, the contestants also sang a second number as a duet with a guest. Skunk was paired with Michael Bolton, while Bull sang with Jesse McCartney, who appeared as the Turtle in Season 3 (and ended in second place).
For Skunk, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke got it right and agreed that it was Faith Evans. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg thought it Mary J. Blige. Ken Jeong also went with Mary J. Blige.
“I always thought that would be a fun show to be a part of,” Evans told Variety. “And so when my manager got the call, I was elated. I haven’t been performing at all in the last three or more years. So it was exciting to be able to do a show that I already enjoy watching and it’s local in L.A. And I had enough lead time to map out plans. I was totally excited and honored to be asked.”
Evans as Skunk sang “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You),” by Aretha Franklin, and for her duet sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, with Michael Bolton.
“We had one rehearsal, I was still masked,” Evans said of singing on stage, in costume, with Bolton. “But the funny thing I was kept seeing him like, I don’t know if they told him the clue before. He kept looking, like trying to figure out who this was. Because we sang together years ago at someone’s house party in Malibu. And we ended up singing like four or five songs just around the piano. And so I’m like, I know he’s not going to remember that, but I’m sure I once he sees who I am, it may come back to him.”
Her previous performances included “Diamonds,” by Sam Smith; “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” by James Brown; “Midnight Train to Georgia,” by Gladys Knight & the Pips; “Square Biz,” by Teena Marie; and “At Last,” by Etta James.
“The first one was extremely tough, because, I chose to do a song that wasn’t so typical of the genre that people are used to hearing me sing,” she said. “It wasn’t a song that I had sang before. And then because of that being the first performance, we had to make some adjustments to the mask especially. Because I couldn’t breathe and sweat was pouring from everywhere and I almost choked while I was singing. After that, I definitely said I’m going to go with songs that I’m 100% familiar with.”
Next up, had she continued, Evans said she was planning to sing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.”
Evans said the “Masked Singer” appearance reignited a fire under her to perform, and she has booked a handful of dates for next spring. But because she’s focused on caring for her son, who is on the autism spectrum, Evans said family still takes priority. “I kind of chose to be here at home, to help facilitate everything that he needs,” she said. “It did let me know that hey, you can still do this. That doesn’t quite change my availability.”
The panelists — well, mostly Thicke — had guessed Evans from the beginning. But other names that had been brought up over the season included Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Janet Jackson, Sade, Lauryn Hill, Yolanda Adams, Jill Scott, Fantasia Barrino, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Taraji P. Henson, Queen Latifah, Tamar Braxton, Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo and Brandy.
“I kind of knew Robin would [recognize my voice],” she said. “We’ve worked together a couple of times before and aside from the record that we put out, we had a duet together ten years ago. But there was a time when I used to just go by his house. He’s kind of like family, so I assumed he would know.”
It was Evans’ final voiceover that also cemented her name for Thicke: “Throughout my career, I’d say just as many people have been inspired by my person as by my music. One time I was at church with my good friend Whitney Houston, rest in peace, and there was a young lady who was crying. I’m thinking she’s crying because clearly she sees Whitney Houston. And so the lady got up and she was saying, my song got her through so much. And she was literally crying, ‘I know God is real because I never thought I’d ever see you in my life!’ And then I start crying because I’m thinking she’s talking about Whitney. I was like, ‘oh my God!’ It made me realize that my actions and the hardships I’ve been through didn’t just make me stronger, they helped other people too. And I’ll take that with me forever.”
As for choosing the Skunk costume, “I loved it,” Evans said. “I loved the idea of it. And once I got into it, it was cumbersome. It was hot. But it was still sexy. And the reason I chose the skunk was because not only was it just a cute little sexy skunk, but because I’m biracial. I thought that the black and white thing, you know, but that was a little play on things.”
Faith Evans (Skunk) joined Willie Robertson (Mallard) and Bobby Berk (Caterpillar) joined Natasha Bedingfield (Pepper), John Lydon/Johnny Rotten (Jester), “Mama June” Shannon and Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson (Beach Ball), Rob Schneider (Hamster), Ruth Pointer (Cupcake), Larry the Cable Guy (Baby), Tyga (Dalmatian), Toni Braxton (Pufferfish), Vivica A. Fox (Mother Nature) and Dwight Howard (Octopus) as the next celebrity to be unmasked on Season 6 of “The Masked Singer.”
“The Masked Singer” entered Season 6 with the return of a studio audience for the first time since the pandemic began. This season’s costumes include Baby, Banana Split, Beach Ball, Bull, Caterpillar, Cupcake, Dalmatian, Hamster, Jester, Mallard, Mother Nature, Octopus, Pepper, Pufferfish, Queen of Hearts and Skunk.
The Season 6 contestants boast a combined 85 Grammy Nominations and 27 wins, three Academy Award nominations, 12 Emmy Nominations, 12 Razzie Award Nominations, two Super Bowl appearances and two Lifetime Achievement Awards.
The show’s panelists are once again competing for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer (which McCarthy has won the last two seasons). Jeong and Scherzinger went into episode eleven with a point each, ahead of everyone else.
For Skunk, Thicke’s first impression was Faith Evans; McCarthy Wahlberg’s initial choice was Gloria Gaynor and Roberta Flack. Jeong picked Anita Baker. Scherzinger gave Deborah Cox, Fantasia and Mary J. Blige for her first impression.
That means Thicke now has a point, and we have a three-way tie between him, Jeong and Scherzinger.
Also new this season, a “Take It Off” buzzer allowed the show’s panelists to prematurely demand a celebrity remove their mask, if they’re convinced they know who it is. They’ll get two extra points toward the Golden Ear tally if they’re right. But the buzzer was only used twice, and neither time was correct. The buzzer is now retired for the season.
Here were the other contestant and his performance:
Song: “Straight Up,” by Paula Abdul
Duet: With Jesse McCartney. “Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)” by The Script.
Previous songs: “Drops of Jupiter,” by Train; “What Hurts the Most,” by Rascal Flatts; “Circus,” by Britney Spears; “Make You Feel My Love,” by Bob Dylan; “Rain on Me,” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
Ruled out name: He didn’t appear in “Hamilton,” but “I did perform at the same venue where ‘Hamilton’ had its Broadway debut.”
Celebrity Bestie: Matthew Morrison, “Glee”
Voice-over: “After years of chasing my destiny, I got a big break. I thought it would change my life. But instead, I changed myself. Because of what people around me were saying. Which I regretted for a long time. But one day I woke up and I realized that the qualities I was hiding was actually what gave me my superpowers. When I was true to myself, my success skyrocketed. And now I have the opportunity to inspire others who maybe think they don’t fit in with the herd. And as you can see, I’ll never miss a chance again to express myself…. I am a person who has never believed in my voice. And I’m going to be honest, when I first saw the Bull, I wasn’t 100% sold on it. It didn’t really feel like it resonated with who I am. But with every round, I discovered what I have in common with the Bull. I am tough. I’m romantic. I’m a fighter. I think I learned that to in order to find out who you are, you have to forget about everything that you think you know. And this did that for me.”
Panel guesses: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Lambert, Jaden Smith, Jeremy Pope
Previous panel guesses: Hunter Hayes, Lance Bass, Brian Littrell, Sisqo, Dwayne Johnson, Darren Criss, Justin Timberlake, Brandon Flowers, Rufus Wainwright, Kevin Jonas, Zac Efron, Donald Glover, Anthony Ramos, Leslie Odom Jr., Taye Diggs, Cheyenne Jackson, Lil Nas X, Billy Porter, Usher, Jason DeRulo, Ne-Yo