Spoiler alert: This story contains information about contestants eliminated on Wednesday’s (Feb. 15) episode of The Masked Singer.
The ninth season of Fox’s The Masked Singer launched with formidable competition, with night one seeing the Mustang—an Academy of Country Music award-winning artist—galloping off into the sunset on the season’s premiere episode.
The evening featured Mustang showing off some serious vocal power on the Whitesnake classic “Here I Go Again,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987. It was an unexpected song choice from this sometimes traditional-leaning country vocalist. Guesses from judges ran the gamut, from P!nk to Suzanne Somers, with only one judge picking up on the hint of twang in Mustang’s voice — and even then, guessing (incorrectly) that Mustang might be Wynonna Judd.
Guesses for Nancy Wilson and Joan Jett were also tossed into the mix, before it was revealed that hiding under the decadent red-and-black costume was “A Little Bit Stronger” singer Sara Evans.
Before her elimination, Evans spoke with Billboard about singing the Whitesnake classic, her reactions to the judges’ guesses and why she didn’t tell her family members she was competing on The Masked Singer.
What drew you to being part of The Masked Singer?
I thought it would be fun and something different to experience, and of course, being on television is good for anyone’s career. It’s also different from our normal routine of writing and touring, so any chance I get to do something different and exciting, it gives you a new energy.
Had you watched the show before?
I had watched maybe a handful of episodes. I didn’t realize everything that went into it and it’s just incredible and the secrecy is so fun. Some of my good friends, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black, I saw their time on the show.
Did they give you any advice on the show?
They were just like, “The costume can be claustrophobic, just know that going into it and they’ll do what they can to help you feel comfortable.” But it was great because my costume was, aside from a big horse head, which was heavy, it was really just like leather pants and a leather top. It wasn’t too restrictive.
How did you decide on the Mustang as a costume choice?
Producers and people sometimes help with those decisions. They came to me with that idea and I loved it. It was great because I grew up on a farm and I grew up on a horse and adore horses. There couldn’t have been anything better.
You performed “Here I Go Again” from Whitesnake, and also did the battle round, performing Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Those were perhaps unexpected choices for you.
I was going to be on a different episode, doing ABBA Night. But then someone had to drop out and the producers asked me if I would fill in for that person and take their songs to be on the first episode of The Masked Singer instead. So I already knew the Whitesnake song; of course, everyone knows it, but I got it at like 11:30 the night before we had to film it, at the last minute. Everyone was really appreciative, though, and I ended up having so much fun singing the Whitesnake song, especially.
The judges had some great guesses—P!nk and Joan Jett among them. Were you surprised by any of their guesses?
I was flattered. Everyone they guessed, I was like, “Oh, my god. I’m a fan of hers, and hers, and she’s a legend.” It was great. I felt like it was a huge compliment.
It sounded like you didn’t tell anyone in your family that you were going to be on the show.
Yeah, ’cause I wanted my kids to be surprised and I didn’t trust my mom not to tell people. [laughs] I’m going to tell my mom and siblings and everyone tonight, like around five or six o’clock and ask them to watch.
What is coming up for you, musically?
I’m gonna make a new album. I’m still writing songs for it, and we will go into the studio probably around April and start recording it. I haven’t had an album out since 2020, so that will be a big part of our year. We’re also on the road. We usually do about 80 shows a year and that starts next week, so we are just always busy working and on the road.