"It was a very healing experience," the singer and American Idol alum under the mask tells EW.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 9 finale of The Masked Singer.

The Macaw didn't just fly off The Masked Singer stage — he soared.

After a whole season of heartbreakingly good performances, the colorful parrot brought two more to the season 9 finale on Wednesday, where he sang "Hold Back the River" by James Bay and "All by Myself" by Eric Carmen.

He gave it his all, and though he ultimately lost out on the Golden Mask Trophy to Medusa (who was later revealed to be Bishop Briggs), Macaw still managed to bring the panelists, in particular Nicole Scherzinger and Ken Jeong, to tears, in what was probably the most emotional finale on the show yet.

Macaw was unmasked to reveal bestselling recording artist and American Idol season 7 finalist David Archuleta. Ahead of his big reveal on Wednesday, EW caught up with Archuleta to hear more about his emotional journey before, during, and after the show, and what fans can expect from his new music.

THE MASKED SINGER: Macau in the “Season Finale” episode of THE MASKED SINGER airing Wednesday, May 17 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.
Macaw on 'The Masked Singer'
| Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: From the beginning of the show, you seemed to have a special connection with panelist Nicole Scherzinger. Tell me about that and what that meant to you.

DAVID ARCHULETA: Yeah, I think Nicole, she's a singer, but not just a singer, she's a vocalist and an emotional singer as well. And so I think she always kind of gives a nod to performers who are in that same space. So I did feel a connection with her in that aspect. One of the clues was that we both have a love for the Philippines. She's part Filipino. I have a lot of ties to the Philippines. I've gone there a lot. I've done shows. I've also done charity work over there, and have a lot of friends, and did a TV drama series over there, too. Nicole, it's like she has a way with words. And she would say the exact thing that I needed to hear.… I had a moment with Ken as well. Where they say things that kind of just make you feel like you've left a print on people. You've left an impact. And I don't know. Whenever she would talk, it made me teary-eyed because you just feel valued. It's like affirming therapy or something. They help you see the good qualities in you. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, I didn't think I was gonna have a live therapy session with an audience," but that's what it felt like. It was a very healing experience.

On the show, you talked about how you got to a place in your life where you almost walked away from singing and everything. Where are you at now with all that?

I had done like two Christmas tours, and I almost did a spring tour last year before I had to get [vocal] surgery and I couldn't speak for three months. So I had to cancel it. But each time that I was going to each place, I was feeling so lost as a person and also just as an artist. I was like, why am I still doing this? I don't understand. When I came out of the closet, I kind of felt like, who am I supposed to be now? Am I losing who I was? Is who I was even who I am? Was I just trying to appease to everybody the way I thought they wanted me to be? And I did feel a lot of that. I felt like, okay, there are parts of me that are still there. But who am I? I don't think I'd given myself a chance because I was always so afraid of myself.

And I think it's hard for me to watch American Idol, for example, because I was young, and I was very much terrified of myself. And I was just like, well, if I do everything the right way, that part of me won't come forward. I was trying so hard to, not just hide that part of me, but to just push it down. So that's why sometimes when I look back, I'm like, oh my gosh, I see that I was exhausted, but I was also trying so hard to not be who I naturally was. And I got used to that, up until my 20s. I didn't come come out until I was 30. But in the process, I thought I don't know who I really am because I'm so used to caging myself, and restricting myself, because I was so afraid of what would happen if I didn't do that. So now it's like okay, here I am. I'm a bird now on The Masked Singer. [Laughs] I'm a bird with its wings spread out, outside of this cage, and free to be vibrant and colorful, but it's gonna take me some time to learn how to do this. Because I've never put myself in a position to be free like this, the flying and being colorful. But it's a great starting place for me to move forward and just let my wings loose with my music. And I think it's going to really reflect in this vision, these new songs, this new liberating feeling.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 28: David Archuleta attends The Queerties 2023 Awards celebration at EDEN Sunset on February 28, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)
David Archuleta
| Credit: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty

Tell me about that — the new music. What can people expect?

So the first one I have coming out is "Up," it comes out June 2 [available for pre-order tonight]. It's kind of like the prelude. It's meant to tie where I'm coming from, my past, my history — but it's also coming from a place where I was at the bottom of that, at the end of that path. I've lived out the end of this, and I don't know where else to go. This is continuing down a very dark place, and I need to get out of it now. So this is me saying, I'm accepting myself as I am, as a queer person, and letting myself be seen, every aspect of myself. I don't even know what I am still, like, I'm still figuring it out — gay, bisexual, I don't know — that's why I just say queer. And I'm just letting all of me be seen now. And not being so afraid of hiding myself and being afraid of what people will say if people find out. I'm just like, you know what, now they know! And now it's just moving up, and I'm gonna have fun. There's no need to hide anything anymore — just have a good time.

There are some really fun songs that are gonna get people dancing as well, that I'm really excited about. And there are still some classic ballads. I feel like these songs are more about love, something that I always shied away from before because it was something I didn't relate to. I don't think I ever really experienced love the way everyone talks about in songs and novels and all that. And I feel like I'm talking about what it's like for me to experience it for the first time really and fully. I'm excited to share that, in fun ways, dance ways, and also in ballad-y ways. I'm excited to share this new chapter and these new songs with everyone. The first ones will be out the beginning of summer, and I'm already setting up [some singles] to release throughout the summer, leading to a full album release later this year.

What did your time on The Masked Singer mean to you, and did it surprise you?

I was surprised. You just never know what people are going to think of your performance or if they're going to connect with it. And I'm just really happy that it seems that from the beginning of my time on the show to the end of it, and being in the finale, I was really just happy that people enjoyed it. That's what we want as entertainers, we just want people to enjoy watching the show. So I hope people enjoyed Macaw's time on Masked Singer, and my time.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Related content:

Episode Recaps

The Masked Singer

Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?

  • TV Show
  • 9
  • Wednesdays at 08:00 PM