The untold truth of Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton has been a fixture on country airwaves and TV for years now, so it's easy to feel like you know him: He's from Oklahoma, he likes to drink, he likes to make fun of Adam Levine, he was married to Miranda Lambert, and now he's with Gwen Stefani. But there's much more to the country crooner than what you see in just tabloid headlines and hear in his songs.

According to Biography, Shelton began his career at just 16 years old, "[touring] the bar circuit" before he could even drink legally. By 17, he'd moved to Nashville to try his hand at being a songwriter. He landed a deal with Giant Records and topped country charts with "Austin," later releasing his self-titled debut on Warner Bros. Records in 2002 after Giant Records folded.

From there, Shelton has become a household name, not just in the country arena, but also in mainstream pop culture. Whether it's his sometimes-too-straight talking nature, his love life, or his incredible chart success, get to know the man behind the down-home charm.

Did Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have a sketchy start?

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were one of country's cutest couples, but their foundation may have been a faulty one: Shelton was still married to his first wife Kaynette Gern when he met Lambert in 2005 when they performed "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" during CMT's "100 Greatest Duets" concert. The pair's chemistry was palpable. He later told Behind The Music (via Entertainment Weekly), "I've never had that kind of experience with anybody. I was a married guy, you know? Standing up there and singing with somebody and going, 'Man, this shouldn't be happening.' Looking back on that, I was falling in love with her, right there on stage." Further complicating matters was that Lambert reportedly had a boyfriend at the time as well.

Whether it should or shouldn't have happened, it did. Shelton and Lambert shacked up and he divorced Gern, which he admitted to CBS News was an incredibly hard decision. "I was married," he said. "That was easily the toughest thing that I've, you know, been through. I put my divorce up there with my brother's death and that was a tough, tough call to make."

Shelton and Lambert split in 2015, and he quickly moved on with Gwen Stefani, who was going through her own messy divorce from Gavin Rossdale at the time.

Religion is making things complicated for Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani

Following his split from Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton rebounded in a big way with Gwen Stefani, who he credits with helping him rediscover his faith when she encouraged him to go to church with her regularly. "I believe in God now more than I ever have in my life," he told USA Today. "The biggest part of that is just how [Stefani] came into my life and now our relationship. It's just too weird. If you take God out of it, it doesn't make sense. If you put God into it, everything that's happened with us makes sense." It should be noted that Shelton's spirituality has also boosted another part of his life: his bank account. The singer scored a massive hit with "God's Country," earning him his 26th No. 1 hit, not to mention a Grammy nomination.

In any event, Stefani's relationship with God may be complicating any potential wedding plans Shelton and Stefani may have. Both People and Us Weekly have reported that sources claim Shelton and Stefani are super serious about one another and that he's considered proposing for a long time, but the No Doubt singer's strict Catholicism won't let her and Shelton tie the knot until she's granted an annulment, which can take a mighty long time. It should be noted, however, that tabloid whistleblower Gossip Cop checked in on the claim and was told by Stefani's spokesperson that it's "untrue." 

The Voice wasn't Blake Shelton's first TV rodeo

Long before Blake Shelton was a staple on The Voice, he tried his hand at coaching and judging two other reality singing competition shows that didn't pan out nearly as well as the NBC ratings juggernaut. In 2007, Shelton began his lucrative relationship with NBC when he served as a choir coach and recruiter on Clash Of The Choirs, where he scouted for talent in Oklahoma City, Okla., and, similarly to The Voice, performed with his team. The same year, he was also a judge on Nashville Star on the USA Network for the show's fifth season. (Incidentally, Miranda Lambert was a finalist on the first season of the show in 2003.)

When asked if he was worried he'd be more considered a television personality than a country artist given his career trajectory, Shelton was characteristically frank. "My job at The Voice is to represent country music. I take that very seriously," he told Rolling Stone. "So many hit songs have been launched from this show, and so many songs have been discovered. It's bringing music into 13 million people's living rooms. There's nothing but f**kin' awesomeness that comes out of that."

The truth behind Blake Shelton and Adam Levine's bromance

Blake Shelton and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine bickered so much on The Voice that it wasn't always clear whether they actually loathed each other or whether they had such a strong bromance that they basically acted like an old married couple. Levine previously explained to Entertainment Tonight that when he and Shelton "tried to be nice to each other" for a season of the show, they basically couldn't function at all — and that the producers of The Voice were mortified to see their bickering cease, so they went right back to it.

The brotherly bond was made even more clear after Levine's shocking exit from the show in spring 2019. When Levine broke his silence on Instagram about leaving the series, he thanked none of his original fellow coaches except for Shelton, writing, "BLAKE F**KIN' SHELTON. I couldn't hide my love for you if I tried. Seriously. I tried. Can't do it," later adding, "You're my brother for life."

In September 2019, Shelton told Access Daily that he and Levine still talk frequently. He also jokingly lamented Levine's departure, saying, "It sucks not having Adam on the show. He's been there since the beginning, and it's hard not to have somebody that stupid to make fun of. ... Everybody here now, they're smarter, they're more talented, and he's not here to kick around."

The Voice made Blake Shelton very rich, but is he over it?

Blake Shelton is one of the highest-paid country stars on the planet thanks to reality TV. Forbes reported that Shelton made $32 million in 2019, largely due to a hefty pay day from The Voice; he reportedly made $28 million in 2018. According to The Wrap, Shelton made $13 million for The Voice alone in 2016 — and Radar Online reported in January 2017 that Shelton and girlfriend Gwen Stefani each got bonuses for milking their offscreen romance on TV. (Go ahead and take that claim with the appropriate grain of salt.) 

While the paycheck is nice, there have been reports that Shelton is getting tired of actually doing the show. Insiders told Radar Online that Shelton got salty when Miley Cyrus and especially Jennifer Hudson each temporarily replaced Stefani on the coaching panel, but his issues may have extended beyond missing his girlfriend. An insider also told Radar Online before Adam Levine quit that if Levine left, Shelton would follow. As of this writing, he hasn't, but the source also noted, "Blake has made tens of millions of dollars on The Voice and he has gotten insane exposure for his music, but the money and fame have changed Blake. He is a cry baby if he doesn't get his own way and he barks orders at people."

There's one thing Shelton openly says he doesn't love about The Voice, which records in Los Angeles. He admitted to Rolling Stone,"I wish to God the show was taped in Nashville. I'd be 200 times happier."

Blake Shelton has donated major funds to an amazing cause

In December 2018, Blake Shelton donated $600,000 to kickstart what became the Blake Shelton Cancer Research Program at Oklahoma University's Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. Two years earlier, he'd donated another $600,000 to the hospital's Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disease in Children in honor of his cousin Aspen Van Horn who underwent cancer treatment there for neuroblastoma when she was just five months old. He brought Van Horn onstage with him during a show in September 2016 in OKC and told the crowd (via Taste Of Country), "This time last year, we had a scare ... and we didn't know what was going to happen. And you can see that she's here right now ... [Jimmy Everest Children's Hospital doesn't] turn any kids away. You come in there, you have a problem, they don't turn anybody away, so I thought, 'That's a place that needs some money. ... Let's all do the right thing.' This is our money, Oklahoma."

Blake Shelton has a history of problematic remarks

Blake Shelton still isn't really known for holding his tongue, but he learned a hard lesson about trigger-happy Twitter fingers. After stopping just short of voicing his support for a then very controversial candidate Donald Trump in an August 2016 issue of Billboard and being named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2017, old Shelton tweets resurfaced that many interpreted as homophobic, sexist, racist, and bodyshaming. The posts included jokes mocking lesbians (including Ellen DeGeneres), references to violence against gay men, and an insinuation that a non-english speaker was "planning to bomb" something. 

The tweets were mostly from circa 2009 through 2011, before Shelton joined The Voice, so they largely flew under the radar at the time they were posted. When called out, Shelton deleted the offensive tweets and apologized with the following: "Everybody knows comedy has been a major part of my career and it's always been out there for anyone to see. That said anyone that knows me also knows I have no tolerance for hate of any kind or form. Can my humor at times be inappropriate and immature? Yes. Hateful? Never. That said, I deeply apologize to anybody who may have been offended."

The scandal died down relatively quickly, and there's reportedly a reason for that. Sources told Page Six that NBC and The Voice reps threatened to revoke "access to the show's stars, and tapings" from outlets that reported on the tweets. Shelton later griped to Rolling Stone that he was "tired of the drama" from Twitter and the "crybaby reaction" to not being politically correct.

Blake Shelton almost officiated Kelly Clarkson's wedding

On top of being a TV personality, singer, occasional songwriter, and Angry Birds voice actor, Blake Shelton is also an ordained minister. In October 2019, Shelton officiated pal and fellow country singer Trace Adkins' wedding to actress Victoria Pratt, making her Adkins' fourth wife, Today reported.

It wasn't Shelton's only time presiding over nuptials. Us Weekly reported that in 2013, Shelton officiated collaborator Ashley Monroe's wedding to then-Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks (while his then-wife Miranda Lambert served as Monroe's maid of honor and wedding planner). He was also slated to both sing at and officiate pal and fellow The Voice coach Kelly Clarkson's wedding to Brandon Blackstock, Entertainment Tonight (via The Boot) reported, but Clarkson and Blackstock opted to elope instead. Shelton later admitted on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno that he was happy to be off the hook, noting (via The Boot), "I got to do the really great thing, which is avoid having to go through a wedding. I would rather go to the dentist."

Blake Shelton has made chart history more than once

Blake Shelton made country music history more than once. In 2014, Rolling Stone reported that Shelton was the first country singer to top the Billboard Artist 100 chart. Unlike other charts, the Artist 100 takes into account not just sales and streams, but also radio airplay and social media interactions — and it includes every genre, making the achievement an even bigger deal. Three years later, six of the 11 songs on Shelton's Texoma Shore made the Mediabase/Country Aircheck charts simultaneously, WBWN reported, making Shelton the first artist to meet that milestone.

Shelton began challenging records with his very first release. CMT reported that in August 2001, Shelton's debut single, "Austin," hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart. At the time, it matched the record set by none other than fellow mullet enthusiast Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" in 1992. In 2015, Shelton's collaboration with Ashley Monroe, "Lonely Tonight," became his 14th consecutive No. 1 — breaking his own record for most consecutive No. 1 songs. He later broke that record again with "Sangria."

Blake Shelton rarely writes his own songs

Considering how successful Blake Shelton is, it comes as somewhat of a shock to many casual fans that he doesn't write most of his own songs. He explained to CBS News, "If I've written 200 songs in my life or 300 songs, I probably have 15 of those that I'm proud of. That I truly go, man, I did something there. And I can't imagine me convincing myself that I'm a better songwriter than some of these people in Nashville. I just want the song to be the best song it can possibly be." Shelton doesn't keep his lack of writing credits a secret, however, and frequently speaks out in support of Nashville songwriting teams.

Still, the ones he does write (via Nash Country Daily), as he did on songs including "All Over Me," "Friends," "On A Good Day," "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," "The Last Country Song," and "Savior's Shadow," the results are usually great. He and then-wife Miranda Lambert collaborated on "Over You," inspired by the death of Shelton's older brother in a car accident in 1990, as well as several others close to the couple. "He doesn't write that much — I'm definitely way more into songwriting than he is," Lambert told Headline Country in 2012. "But when he does, it's extremely special."