After the Bee’s first performance on The Masked Singer, the judges guessed music legends including Mary J Blige, Diana Ross, Lil Kim, and Dionne Warwick. Based on the clues given so far and the Bee’s incredible rendition of “Chandelier” by Sia, the leading guess for which celebrity is behind the bee mask is Gladys Knight.
The show, which originated in South Korea, asks celebrities to face off in a singing competition while disguised in head to toe costuming and, as the show title indicates, an ornate mask. Nick Cannon hosts, and Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger serve as the panel of judges. Every week, remaining masked celebrities give performances and provide clues meant to help the audience and judges guess who they might be.
So far, the celebrity clues for the bee tell us that she is a professional singer who has been working since the 50s (which she told the judges after her first performance). In her first clue package, she also dropped hints like “You can call me queen bee, but empress also suits me” and “I want to see for myself that I still have what it takes to create a buzz.” In both promotional pre-show clue packages, the bee’s “clue” was a pair of tennis balls.
Why is Gladys Knight the top guess for the bee? She is a 7-time Grammy-winning singer and songwriter and led “Gladys Knight & the Pips” to fame in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. She is also known as “The Empress of Soul.” Vulture points out that she is a strong guess because “Gladys Knight won Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour in 1952 when she was 7 years old. Then she created the Pips with her siblings and cousins, and they started touring in the late ’50s.” Gold Derby notes Gladys’ vast accomplishments at a singer and recording artist over the course of her career, adding that Knight will be 75 years old on May 28.
Even Patti LaBelle thinks the Bee is her friend and colleague. LaBelle told Entertainment Tonight “Yes, some people thought it was me. I think it’s Gladys… She’s a queen bee!”
This wouldn’t be Gladys Knight’s first time as a contestant in a celebrity reality TV competition – she competed in season 14 of Dancing With the Stars. At the time, she was 67 and the oldest celebrity on the show but she told The Hollywood Reporter “I don’t think in terms of age, per se. We sort of categorize ourselves. It’s what we feel in our hearts and our spirits and our minds that makes the difference.”
If you’re still not convinced, here is a video of Gladys Knight singing (unmasked) on her season of Dancing With the Stars, to compare with the video of her The Masked Singer performance of Sia’s “Chandelier:”
Whether or not Gladys Knight turns out to be “The Bee,” the country will get to hear her sing the National Anthem at this year’s Super Bowl.
Tune in to The Masked Singer on Fox, Wednesday nights at 9/8c.