When those big red chairs flip around during blind auditions on The Voice, expect to see Blake Shelton’s smirking mug in one of them for some time to come.
“It would break my heart to not be there,” the 38-year-old entertainer tells Rolling Stone Country. “At this point, to see somebody else sittin’ there in my chair doing that job — I think I would never be able to watch it without being jealous.”
Shelton’s relationship with The Voice has been mutually beneficial for Shelton and NBC. The Oklahoma native’s fame was already skyrocketing when the singing competition made its debut in 2011. But thanks to a potent combination of musical savvy, smart-aleck barbs, killer dimples and an audience of 10-15 million viewers, his star suddenly shot into the stratosphere.
A pair of Number One country albums followed Shelton’s Voice debut, then half a dozen Grammy nominations. He won two Academy of Country Music awards and six Country Music Association trophies, including Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year for his 2013 record, Based on a True Story…
The Voice gave Shelton something few country singers can match: mainstream household name recognition. But joining the show’s ranks was a bit of Hollywood culture shock — and ego check.
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“It’s so hard for us artists to all of a sudden have a boss, and to put ourselves in that situation of having to answer to somebody, like these people at NBC, and producers and stuff,” Shelton confides. “We have a job, and it’s weird to work yourself up to this level where you’re like a star, and you’re the boss and you only do what you want to do, and then all of a sudden, you sign on to do something like that.”
Yet his tight relationship with NBC worked to Shelton’s advantage last year, when deadly tornadoes swept through the suburbs of Oklahoma City, leaving damage and devastation near his hometown of Ada, Oklahoma. He partnered with the network for a rapidly assembled televised event called Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert that raised six million dollars for the United Way of Central Oklahoma.
It’s also no coincidence that Shelton’s new album, Bringing Back the Sunshine, will be released September 30 — one week after The Voice returns for a seventh season. He’ll most likely perform his new single “Neon Light” on the program, as well as make an appearance on NBC’s Today show on October 1st.
It’s no wonder Shelton has no plans to leave The Voice anytime soon.
“I love it so much, and I made some of the most important relationships in my life by being a part of that show, with some of the coaches, some of the people who just came to perform, but mostly those who have been on my teams over the year… they’re my family now,” he says.
Leaving The Voice would also mean ditching his bromance with fellow coach Adam Levine. “That part probably wouldn’t bother me as much as people think,” Shelton says with a laugh.
Even with new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams in the mix, fans still obsess over the two-headed Voice phenomenon known in certain circles as “Bladam.”
“It’s so foreign to see anything that’s genuine on television these days. That’s why I think so much attention is focused on Adam and I,” Shelton theorizes. “You can tell we really like each other. We really are friends, and we’re giving each other crap like we’ve known each other all our lives. I just think the world of that dude.”
The Voice premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.