Masks Off! Cocktail Convos with Masked Singer Winner Kandi Burruss & Runner-Up Jesse McCartney

The masks are off, the singing has stopped and the talking has started!  I got to have a couple Cocktail Convos with the top two finishers of season three of The Masked Singer. Winner Kandi Burruss as Night Angel and runner-up Jesse McCartney as Turtle both killed it this season.

Elaborate costumes only carry you so far. It takes mad singing skills to win this show and both brought it week after week.

Singing Secrets

Both have known the results for awhile and both have had their challenges. “It’s been for a couple months,” Kandi told me about keeping her status secret. “(the finalé) was (recorded) like the first week of March, just before things shut down.”

Jesse had a hard time keeping his secret identity a secret. Comments on his Instagram feed are filled with tempting turtle emojis. “I was so nervous on Instagram that I would accidentally ‘like’ one of the turtle comments. I was trying to be really careful on Instagram.”

Kandi was also getting called out, including by me. I recognized that voice early on and apparently I’m not alone. “You know, I got a lot of people who said that. A lot of people kind of know my voice. They say my speaking voice and my singing voice sound a lot alike.”

A Heavy Burden

Night Angel was one of the most fab costumes yet on the American version of the show. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And inside that costume, Kandi was in hell. “My first day of dress rehearsal I almost passed out. It was that hot, I was so hot. It was so bad, with that mask over my head because you know you have the skull cap, that purple part, then you have the mask with the wig, and then you have all wings and the skirts and there’s a whole harness that goes with the wings. I could barely breathe with that thing on. I was like oh my god I’m dying.”

And on top of that, she had to be ‘expressive.’ “That’s the thing they tell you, you have to make movement even when you’re just standing there because you have a mask on and you can’t show expression on your face so you have to like find other ways to show your expression even when you’re just talking.”

It could have been worse. Kandy shared her brilliant secret for getting ready for the show. “My way to practice, I had ordered a ski mask and a hockey mask offline and I would put them both on and dance and jog in place with them so I could get used to being overheated and singing though a mask.”

Jesse, who’s a Grammy winner, is no stranger to performing in stressful situations. But says Masked Singer is next level. “The thing about this show that’s different from anything else in my career is the pace in which you work. Week in, week out, you’re scrambling to get another song done. You’re choosing from 20-25 songs a week to sort through. If a lot of contestants are doing uptempo songs then the network wants you to do a ballad, or vice-versa.”

“It’s a big team of people putting the show together. And it always comes together last minute in the 11th hour. It’s a stressful environment and you have to be on your toes and ready to go every week.”

Face Off  (Or Is It Face On?)

Though they met in the finals, Kandi says the production schedule gave her a leg up. “He was in Group A or Group B or one of them. So I was able to see their episodes before I started taping mine. You know I was scouting the competition. I was like ‘wow that turtle, he’s gonna be one to really watch out for.”

She’s also a member of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, so it’s probably best Jesse came in second. Real Housewives guru Andy Cohen will go after anyone who challenges his ladies! “That’s what I hear,” Jessie told me. “I really wanted to win the show, don’t get it twisted. It would have been so fun. But it was a hard fought battle by all the contestants and ultimately I’m just so thrilled that I made it to the finale’ and made it as far as I did. I just had such a blast.”

Kandi can attest to Andy’s protectiveness, but has nothing but love. “I guess you’re right. Let me just tell you, much love to Jesse McCartney. He was amazing the entire time. Every time I saw him when I’d be watching the show, I was like ‘whoa, he’s the real competition.’ It really could have been anyone’s game at the end. I felt like Bow Wow, he was amazing as well. I’m thankful I was able to pull through at the end but much love to both of then as well. It was just a cool experience.”

Quarantine Blues

Both Kandi and Jesse are keeping as busy as possible when there’s nowhere to go and little to do.

He’s with his fiancé and having fun posting their new series Quarantined Couple on Instagram. “My fiancee hasn’t moved out of the house yet, so so far doing okay.” They’re doing great. Not every couple is gonna make it (I’m looking at you, Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler). Jesse also dropped new a new single, Friends.

Kandi also dropped a hot new single, Used To Love Me. The idea was to release the music when she was revealed on the show. Of course, circumstances changed. This is a song that should be playing in clubs (which are closed) and at Prides (which are cancelled). “I would love for my song to be playing in clubs everywhere, but unfortunately everybody isn’t in the clubs right now. But I still tell everybody go download it, add it to your playlist, and while you’re at home cleaning up or something you got something to dance to and help you get through the day.”

And at some point, we’ll groove to it together. “I would love to be able to be together again. When I first won I was planning on touring, planning on doing all kinds of stuff. But in the meantime and in-between time, I definitely plan on doing a music video, plan on doing a lot of competitions online.”

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

I’m watching the best performances of the season on Youtube, after popping open a Corona. The virus sucks. The beer is delicious.


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