Blake Shelton celebrated his first exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday in what was very unusual fashion for the normally wild and sarcastic star: with a simple statement of gratitude and disbelief.
"This is the craziest thing that has ever happened for me," he told an assembled crowd of supporters and media.
Titled "Blake Shelton: Based on a True Story," the exhibit officially opened to the public on May 27th and traces Shelton's path from Ada, Oklahoma, to country superstardom and national celebrity as a team leader on the TV singing competition The Voice. Included in the exhibit are personal items like one of the famous spinning chairs from The Voice, clothing, awards, a memo pad with lyrics to the first song he ever wrote and his first royalty check — for the amount of $2.73.
Shelton's exhibit is the latest in a string of presentations telling the stories of current stars like Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Shelton's ex-wife, Miranda Lambert. Speaking from a podium in the Hall's rotunda and surrounded by plaques commemorating Hall of Fame members, Shelton still found it hard to come to grips with where his career has taken him.
"I'm not one of these people on these plaques, but I do have an exhibit in this place, and that’s a pretty damn big deal, if you ask me," he said. "I really don’t know how I ended up here on this podium. All I ever wanted to do was be a country singer. I didn't want to be a person on TV, I didn’t want to be a songwriter, a producer, a person on magazines. All I ever cared about was being a country singer, and I've been lucky enough along the way to do all those other things I mentioned."
Usually full of self-deprecating jokes and with plenty to say, Shelton admitted that for one of the first times in his life, he felt speechless because of the honor. Friends and supporters like the Oak Ridge Boys and Paul Overstreet were in the audience to congratulate the star, and Museum CEO Kyle Young had just described him as "one of country music’s prime forces, an ambassador for our music on national television."
"All I know is," Shelton countered, "the one thing I started out doing in 1994 when I moved to Nashville was keeping my eye on what I felt like — and still do — is the prize, and I wanted to be a country singer. No matter how much they throw at you, no matter what they say, what they do, that’s all I’ve ever cared about. I’ve just kept my head down and kept trying for this thing, and I still feel like I’m trying right now.
"That’s why I guess it's weird for me to stop for one second and go 'Holy shit, there’s an exhibit at the Hall of Fame about what I’ve been doing all this time?' That’s why for the first time I guess I feel a little speechless, because I still feel like … hopefully I’m still at the beginning of this thing, and you’re probably not doing your job right if you don’t feel that way."
Blake Shelton: Based on a True Story runs through November 6th in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. On Saturday, June 11th, Shelton will perform at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium as part of the CMA Music Festival's nightly stadium concert lineup.