Another country icon almost filled Blake Shelton's coach's chair on The Voice

During a panel discussion with Shelton at his Ole Red bar in Nashville on Thursday (Nov. 14) hosted by Grand Ole Opry announcer Bill Cody, Shelton revealed that NBC initially reached out to Reba McEntire to be the country music representative on The Voice. 

"If I'm not mistaken, they wanted Reba to be a coach on The Voice first. They knew they wanted a country artist to be a coach on The Voice to fill that lane," Shelton explained.

The network contacted McEntire's former manager/husband, Narvel Blackstock of Starstruck Entertainment, before the show's 2011 premiere, inquiring if she'd want to be a part of it — an offer they ultimately turned down. "For whatever reason, she couldn't do it, or they just decided it wasn't the thing for her at the time," Shelton said.

Though the country legend was unavailable to join the wildly popular show, Blackstock pitched another artist on his roster, Shelton. The "Austin" singer had previously worked with NBC on the short-lived miniseries Clash of the Choirs in 2007, which saw him serving as a coach to a choir in his hometown of Ada, Oklahoma. He worked alongside a panel of celebrity coaches including Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland and Michael Bolton; with his team coming in third place.

Flash forward four years after Clash of the Choirs ended, and Shelton had racked up his sixth No. 1 hit with "Hillbilly Bone," while "Honey Bee" and "God Gave Me You" were climbing the charts as The Voice was in development. "It was enough justification there for 'He could be the country representative,'" Shelton noted. "They knew just enough about me that they just rolled the dice and said 'OK, we'll try him.'" 

When he booked the gig, Shelton hadn't previously met Season One coaches Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green and Adam Levine, but the decision to join the show turned Shelton into a global star. "It was magical the way it all happened," he reflected.

The Voice is currently in its 17th season, with Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend serving as coaches. The country superstar took home the award for Single of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards for "God's Country," marking his first win in the category.

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