During the pandemic, Blake Shelton was ready to leave The Voice. In a new interview with the Today Show, the country star — and 23-time Voice coach — revealed that he stuck around the music competition show for a few more seasons to not leave everyone “in a bind” amidst the unknowns that COVID-19 brought.
“I think I was close to calling it a day right when COVID hit,” he confessed to Carson Daly, who also hosts the competition series. “And then, because of COVID, I didn’t want to walk away from the show and leave everybody in a bind. I mean, this show changed my life. I’ll stay here until the world kind of gets back to normal again.”
The upcoming season will be his final, as he shares the coaching spots with returning judge Kelly Clarkson and new judges Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan. During the interview, Shelton shared that the show had “changed my life” in every way. “I met my wife on this show,” he said, referring to him and Gwen Stefani meeting and falling in love while serving as judges on the show following their respective divorces.
“It changed the path of my career. When I came on as a coach on this show, everything in my life was turned upside down,” Shelton said. “And in a good way, you know? This has been incredible, but it’s time, you know. It’s time for not even what’s next. A little bit of nothing would be nice.”
Shelton also joked that he was “the only star they ever found” on the show since appearing on The Voice gave the country singer a much larger platform. “It is what it is, America!” he joked.
Shelton was the only remaining coach from the show’s first season in 2011 when he was a coach alongside Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and CeeLo Green. Aside from the Maroon 5 frontman, who left the show after 16 seasons in 2019, Clarkson has been the longest-lasting coach on the show. (She joined during Season 16.)
Shelton first announced his departure from The Voice in an Instagram post last October.
“This show has changed my life in every way for the better and it will always feel like home to me. It’s been a hell of a ride over these 12 years of chair turns,” he wrote, thanking everyone on the show. “I’ve made lifelong bonds with [host] Carson [Daly] and every single one of my fellow coaches over the years, including my wife Gwen Stefani! Shelton went on to shout out the singers he has welcomed on the competition series. “It would not happen without you,” he wrote to the show’s fans.
The new coaches also shared what they are most looking forward to with the new season during the interview.
“I think, for me, I just kind of went for them voices that kind of make you feel something, a bit of the storyteller kind of vibe going on,” Horan, who was discovered alongside One Direction on The X-Factor, said during the interview. “Get a few goosebumps and then hit the button.”
“When I see artists out there on the stage, I see a young myself, somebody navigating the industry on their own, trying to make a name for themselves,” Chance the Rapper added. “And I just try to impart on them the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years being in it.”
The new season of The Voice is set to premiere on March 6 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.