Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday’s episode of The Masked Singer.
Time to fly away home, Butterfly: the great Michelle Williams — the songstress, not the actress — was the latest contestant to de-robe on Fox music competition The Masked Singer. Here, the 40-year-old member of Destiny’s Child confesses that she probably should have taken some of the soul out of her music because it was just too easy for viewers to guess her identity.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you consider for a second that maybe you should try to disguise your voice? The minute you sang “Bang Bang,” your fans had you pegged.
MICHELLE WILLIAMS: I know! First of all, I’m a church girl, and I come from the church of great music and singing. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me to try to disguise my voice, but mainstream hasn’t really heard my voice. I mean I sang in a group where I didn’t do a lot of the lead vocals, so I was like, “They might think they know, but they don’t know my voice! They’re not going to pick up on it. And they’ll be like, Michelle wouldn’t do the show!” But then the music director’s arrangements were so amazing and they hit my soul. I was like, what am I supposed to do with these arrangements? I’ve got to go out here and kill it! It was a mixture of that and then the song I did from Norah Jones, “Don’t Know Why,” they’re definitely not going pick up that it’s me because it’s a different kind of song. Although it is my favorite type of jazz that my voice does good in. I was excited because they weren’t going to know it’s me. I don’t know. Apparently my high register gives it away. That’s what I was told. “Bang Bang” is like gospel to me. I probably should have chosen songs total opposite of anything I’m known for, which is gospel. I should have done some rappin’ or something.
After you sang “Bang Bang,” someone wrote on a YouTube that you ‘almost caught the Holy Ghost toward the end’ and how you did the old church shuffle.
That’s why I’m telling you music keeps me in a different way. And this whole year I was kind of in a shell, just kind of, um, I took some time off this year and music hits you different when you are in a different place like spiritually. I was meditating and working on my heart, my soul, and my mind this entire year. So when I grabbed that mic, it just hit me in a different way. So I don’t know, sorry to the show. I barely worked this year. In 20 years, I had never taken pretty much the year off. When they asked me about The Masked Singer, I said I’d love to do it. No one’s gonna know it’s me. I didn’t care about how I looked when I showed up to the studio because no one knew. I also did it this year because last year people thought I was on the show.
Robin thought you were on the show last year!
Yes, definitely. I’ll tell you, first of all, my social media feeds started blowing up. I’d go, “Oh Lord, what happened now? Who said I said something? What in the world happened?” I started seeing me tagged in a lot of Masked Singer stuff and I was like, oh no, no, that’s not me. This year I’m getting the same thing, of course. And I’ve had to lie. I’ve been lying since September. I’ve been lying, lying, lying. But this is what I do, especially when I had to not tell people like about when Destiny’s Child was going to make a surprise appearance together. People would say, “Hey, are y’all doing the Super Bowl?’ Nope, I don’t know what you’re talking about, knowing full well I was on a plane headed to rehearsals. So I knew how to kind of keep a secret. I’m in this Christmas musical now and a lot of the kids are running up to me saying, “Hey, are you on The Masked Singer?” And I was like, “No, I’m here in North Carolina with you guys!” They have been asking me to come into their rooms and watch The Masked Singer. It’s because they know it’s me. So they just want to see my reaction while watching the show with them. I’m not that good of a liar.
Has anyone huge or famous called you in the last month asking if it’s you?
Yeah, yeah. I’m getting lots of phone calls. I even saw a tweet and I saved it. Donnie Osmond said that I was his favorite character on The Masked Singer this year. Now I can tweet him back and say “Thank you. I love you too!”
So tell me about that head-dress. Could you see anything?
I could barely see anything. I would have to lift my head at a certain angle to kind of see. I could barely breathe. But the costume was so fierce! I said “Listen…” — I almost passed out from the heat one time — I said, “you know what? I’ll be fierce laying on this floor.” It was definitely heavy but it was well worth it. The Butterfly just spoke to me. That’s what I am in this moment.
There were some people who thought you kind of looked like a moth. Those buggy eyes.
[Laughs] Wait a minute? That’s what people are saying? Okay. Okay. I hadn’t picked that up. What are butterfly eyes? I got an A in zoology. Now you got me looking at moth eyes. Oh well. It was cute, who cares.
What is the show you are doing right now?
It’s called A Snow White Christmas. The Lythgoe family [including So You Think You Can Dance co-creator Nigel Lythgoe] produces it. It’s panto-style theater where the audience can boo and cheer. I’m playing the wicked queen. The audience is told, “When the wicked queen comes out, boo her!” Most of the time in theater, kids and everybody are told to be real quiet. Here, you’re encouraged to interact. So it’s really cool. I’ve never done this style of theater before, though I’ve done lots of Broadway. We’re in North Carolina until Dec. 8 and then we open at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Dec. 13.
Well, I’m sad to see the Butterfly go.
Me too. Me too. But when I look back, the judges could no longer act like they didn’t know who I was. I’ll tell you this, when I was backstage, I heard a playback of myself and I scared myself cause I was like, that’s Michelle, dummy! I did that to myself. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in entertainment, though.
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