The Monster aka T-Pain
Photo: FOX/Getty Images
The GRAMMY Artists Behind The Masked Singer: T-Pain, Gladys Knight & More
Last night "The Masked Singer," the newest TV singing competition which has contestants dressed up in costumes to hide their identities, crowned its winner: GRAMMY-winning rapper T-Pain aka "The Monster."
Throughout the season, fans were left guessing which artists were behind the elaborate animal costumes only being given clues to their identities, like the number of GRAMMYs a singer had. Identities were revealed after each elimination, but three unmasked singers remained in the finale. Now that the show has come to an end and all 12 contestants have been unmasked, let's meet the five GRAMMY-winning/-nominated artists.
T-Pain Aka Monster
The winner of the show is Florida-born rapper T-Pain, who now has another golden trophy to add to his collection of accolades including two GRAMMYs. He proudly keeps his golden gramophones on display in his studio in Atlanta, home to the label he founded, Nappy Boy Entertainment. Is this where he'll keep his new trophy too? We can only wonder.
T-Pain entered the scene in 2005 with his debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga, featuring the popular single "I'm Sprung," where he sings and raps. His rap verses are stylized with a healthy dose of auto-tune, which he is often credited with popularizing.
At the 50th GRAMMY Awards he earned five nominations, including for his hit single "Bartender," from his 2007 sophomore album, and for his feature on Kanye West's "Good Life," which won the pair Best Rap Song. T-Pain took home his second win two years later at the 52nd GRAMMY Awards for "Blame It," his collab with actor/singer Jaime Foxx.
In 2014 he reminded the world of his powerful singing voice, placing it front and center, sans effects, during his soulful Tiny Desk Concert. As he told series producer NPR, "People felt like I was using it to sound good. But I was just using it to sound different." Now, with the anonymity of the furry Monster costume, T-Pain sang his heart out to the world. During his final performance from behind the mask, he shared how the experience had been a powerful one for him:
"It feels so good to do what I love and be able to do it freely. I've always wanted to be able to perform without the fear of being judged," T-Pain said.
Gladys Knight Aka Bee
The Bee, whose clues included that she had been entertaining people for decades, was none other than seven-time GRAMMY-winning soul legend, Gladys Knight. The Atlanta-born songstress gained popularity in the mid-'60s when her group, Gladys Knight & The Pips, signed with Motown and began releasing chart-topping hits, including their version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" in 1967. Knight would earn her first of many career GRAMMY nominations at the 10th GRAMMY Awards for her solo recording of the single.
She continued to release countless hits over the years as a solo artist and with The Pips. As a group, The Pips earned their first two GRAMMY wins at the 16th GRAMMY Awards, including for their classic "Midnight Train To Georgia." They released their final album as a group in 1987, All Our Love, featuring the upbeat single "Love Overboard," which earned them Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal at the 31st GRAMMY Awards.
Knight is truly a living legend and has proven her ability to use her powerful voice to transform her sound and captivate audiences across the decades. Her most recent GRAMMY, for One Voice, earned her a win for Best Gospel Choir Or Chorus Album. As she said from behind the Bee costume, "I came on this show determined to connect with a new generation." Indeed, viewers know now another legendary Queen Bee.
Tommy Chong Aka Pineapple
Behind the Pineapple was another living legend, Canadian-born comedian, actor and guitarist Tommy Chong, of the ground-breaking comedic duo Cheech & Chong. Chong, along with his long-time collaborator, Cheech Marin, has earned six GRAMMY nominations for Best Comedy Recording, taking home a win in the category for Los Cochinos at the 16th GRAMMY Awards. The pair have used comedy to speak up for immigrant rights and the legalization of marijuana for years.
While still behind the Pineapple mask, Chong shared that he's beaten a life-threatening disease (he's battled with cancer) so it was time to live life to the fullest and check things off the bucket list. "Life is short man, you gotta seize the day before your dreams go up in smoke," he said on the show, a nod to the duo's cult-classic film, Up In Smoke.
Margaret Cho Aka Poodle
Behind the pink and white Poodle was another comedian, GRAMMY nominee Margaret Cho. The San Francisco-born actress/comedian/fashion icon has earned five career GRAMMY nominations, also for her spoken-word comedy albums. She has been acting and doing stand-up since the mid-'90s, making waves while covering important, pressing topics of our time, especially around race, sexuality and queerness.
Joey Fatone Aka Rabbit
Last but not least, behind the Rabbit was GRAMMY-nominated singer Joey Fatone, from one of the most unforgettable boybands of all time: 'NSYNC. The group took over the airwaves in the 2000s with catchy songs like "Tearin' Up My Heart," from their self-titled debut, and "Bye Bye Bye" from 2000's No Strings Attached. At the 43rd GRAMMY Awards the album, which marked a split from their prior manager and label, earned them a second round of nominations, including for Best Pop Album and Record Of The Year for "Bye Bye Bye."