Since he announced his exit from The Voice after 23 seasons, fans have been asking: Why is Blake Shelton leaving The Voice and was he fired?
Shelton joined The Voice as a coach in season 1 in 2011 alongside Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green. He is the last original judge on the NBC reality TV singing competition after Green’s exit in 2013, Aguilera’s exit in 2016 and Levine’s exit in 2019. Shelton’s last season, season 23, aired in 2023, and had a lineup of Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan. Throughout Shelton’s time on The Voice, the show also welcomed artists like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Pharrell Williams, Usher and Shakira.
In an Instagram statement in October 2022, the “I’ve been wrestling with this for a while and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step away from ‘The Voice’ after the next season,” Shelton wrote. “This show has changed my life in every way for the better and it will always feel like home to me. and it will always feel like home to me. It’s been a hell of a ride over these 12 years of chair turns and I want to thank everyone at The Voice from NBC, every producer, the writers, musicians, crew and catering people, you are the best. It takes a lot of work, passion, and adult beverages (Ha!) to pull off a live show twice a week.”
He continued, “I’ve made lifelong bonds with Carson and every single one of my fellow coaches over the years, including my wife Gwen Stefani. I have to give a huge shoutout to the singers – the ‘Voices,’ who come on this stage season after season and amaze us with their talent and a special thanks to those who chose me to be their coach.”
He concluded his statement, “Lastly, it’s about y’all, the fans, who watch and support these artists, us coaches and everyone at The Voice who are chasing their dreams. It would not happen without you.”
So…why is Blake Shelton leaving The Voice? Read on for why Blake Shelton left The Voice after 22 seasons and the real reason he will no longer a coach on the show.
Why is Blake Shelton leaving The Voice? Shelton revealed in an interview with Today in February 2023 that he first planned to leave The Voice before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 but chose to stay on as a favor to the show. “I think I was close to calling it a day right when COVID hit,” he told Today co-anchor Carson Daley, who also hosts The Voice. “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.” Though he decided he was leaving after season 23, Shelton joked that there was one thing that could keep him as a coach. “I’d like for Kelly (Clarkson) to not be on the show anymore,” he said. “I just think there’s too much Kelly Clarkson on television, in general.”
Shelton also explained to People in December 2022 that he stayed on The Voice for as long as he did because of the positive effect the show had on his career. “The holdup over the years has been that it’s a hard thing for me to let go of. I’ve been here literally since the first minute,” he said. “When I started on The Voice, that was 10 years into my career as a country artist. I never really made it to the A-level of country artists until I became a coach. The show did a hell of a lot more for me than I brought to the table at the time. I’ve far exceeded anything I thought I could ever accomplish in the entertainment world.”
He continued, “In all the time I’ve been working in television, I’ve really just been a guy the network or producers say, ‘Hey, go over here and then go over here and be funny. I never really got to understand what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve been media trained, but I wasn’t cut from that cloth ever, and Carson is so good at capturing that personality of being in the moment. He was the perfect guy for me to do this thing with and learn from.”
Shelton also explained to People that the main reason he left The Voice was to have more time with his wife, Gwen Stefani, whom he married in July 2021, and her kids: sons Kingston, Zuma and Apollo. “Gwen and I have done so much traveling and touring and work the first half of our lives that now we’re like, ‘Hey, I’m good to put my sweatpants on at 6 p.m. and watch Ozark eight times,'” he said. “That’s our life now, and we love it.” He continued, “If I walked away from my career at this time, the only thing that I run the risk of is having regrets that I’m missing out on some more important things in life. For now, that’s our kids. This isn’t about me anymore and never will be again.”
Shelton also told People that another reason he left The Voice was to have more time to focus on his music career. “Walking away from music, you might as well just poison me or something. That’s not something I can go without. I can’t help it,” he said. “I’m really at a crossroads right now. The country music lane is changing so rapidly, and there’s some really good stuff out there. These young kids coming up, it’s amazing to see the music that they’re making and how creative they are.” He continued, “I’m enjoying watching what’s happening and putting a song out once in a while. That’s another reason that I’m excited to get some time back away from The Voice and concentrate more on, ‘What kind of record do I want to make? Is it going to fit in? Do I care? Do I not care?’ I got a lot to figure out,” he said.
Along with his music career, Shelton also told People that he left The Voice to focus on his game show, Barmageddon, which he created with The Voice host, Carson Daley. He told People at the time that he was “open” to whatever opportunities came his way, but he wasn’t in a rush to find another regular job. “I’ve had people say, ‘Man, come on. You’re not quitting The Voice [to do] nothing!’ But I really am. Please, I’m accepting ideas,” he said. “I have Barmageddon — we can do a whole season in a couple weeks, and it’s a blast for me — and my Lands’ End clothing line. It’s time to push some of this [work] stuff out and let more family and personal life in.”
A source told Us Weekly in October 2022 that Shelton “really agonized” about leaving The Voice. “He was in two minds for a while because the show has given him so much — and certainly way more than just a financial perspective,” the insider said while expanding that he “loved mentoring these upcoming performers.” The insider added that the “God’s Country” singer “made some great friends along the way” while coaching the show and it has “helped him see the good side about living and working in Hollywood after so many years [of being] based in the south.”
The insider continued, “Getting to work alongside his best friend Carson [Daly] and then, of course, Gwen was the icing on the cake,” was the reason why Shelton stayed for so long. “But now the show’s moving in a new direction without Gwen and others so it felt right for Blake to bow out as well.” He then “knew it was time to leave the show and needed to move on.” According to the insider, Shelton wants to spend time with Gwen’s three kids, Kingston, 16, Zuma, 14, and Apollo, 8. “Gwen’s kids are becoming older, and their school breaks are becoming longer which allows for the family to spend longer periods of time in Oklahoma.”
Though he didn’t directly state his reason for leaving, Shelton had been hinting at his exit for a while before his official announcement. In a 2021 interview with hosts Hoda and Jenna on the TODAY show, Shelton opened up about his engagement at the time with former Voice coach and his wife, Gwen Stefan, while hinting at what their upcoming nuptials could mean for his time on the NBC talent series. The “God’s Country” singer revealed at the time that he saw himself settling down with his fiancée “sooner than later” when asked about his plans for the future, leading some fans to think of his possible exit from the series.
Hoda asked Shelton, “Do you picture yourself in 10 years, you and Gwen, just out in Oklahoma, not jetting all over the place? Do you see yourself living a much simpler life way way down the road?” The country star admitted that he was hoping for that lifestyle even sooner than the host suggested: “I hope that’s not too far down the road. Ten years sounds like way too long for me,” he said, “I’d like to see that sooner than later.”
In an interview with People in May 2021, Shelton opened up about how The Voice changed his career. “When I started the show, I had been making records for 10 years with some success and some pitfalls,” he said at the time. “There were times where it was like, ‘Man, is my label gonna drop me?’ Then we’d have another okay hit on country radio. I was just hanging in there. The one thing I think attracted the producers to me was the fact that people knew me as a smart-ass, but in a fun way.” He continued, “To be honest, I didn’t think the show was gonna last. In fact, one of the first conversations I ever had with Adam was, ‘Man, how stupid is this?’”
In late 2021, Blake got entangled in rumors that he was going to be fired from the show in favor of a younger judge, Ariana Grande. In September 2021, Radar Online reported that NBC planned to replace Shelton as a coach on The Voice with Ariana Grande, who joined the show in season 21, and other younger singers. “Current top ten artists like Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and The Weeknd, were all hesitant about starring on a competition show before Ariana Grande signed on,” a source told the site. “After a decade on the show, producer as quietly looking to replace Blake with someone younger and more current. Blake is great but he is not in Ariana’s league.”
An anonymous agent also claimed that the decision to hire Grande was to make The Voice appeal to younger viewers. “It is time for a shake-up. The only way the show remains fresh is by constantly evolving. Huge stars that wouldn’t even consider joining the show a few months ago are now thinking again, thanks to Ariana,” the source said.
Shelton responded to the rumors in an Instagram posted by Grande in September 2021. In the Instagram post, Grande included a screenshot of a text between her and Shelton, in which the country singer shared an article about his rumored firing. “Thanks a lot Ari…Thanks a fuckin’ lot…,” he texted to her.
In the 10th anniversary episode of The Voice in 2022, Blake gushed over his wife Gwen Stefani and recalled that it was the moment that his life changed. “People ask me all the time, ‘What’s the greatest thing that has happened for you since you’ve been on The Voice?’” Blake said during the episode, where he and his fellow Voice coaches took a walk down memory lane. “That’s a no-brainer, right? I met my fiancée here. It’s hard to resist Gwen Stefani. You know, here’s this iconic rock star coming to be a coach on The Voice in a black minivan. That was cool to me.”
Blake and Gwen announced their engagement in October 2020 after five years of dating. The couple first confirmed their relationship in 2015, following Gwen’s divorce from Gavin Rossdale and Blake’s split from Miranda Lambert. Though the couple finally met and fell in love on The Voice, Blake admits that their relationship would have seemed like a complete shock to him when he was younger. “If you would have told me back in 1996 that Gwen Stefani was gonna be my girlfriend, I would have laughed you out of the room,” Blake said. “You know what I’m saying? I would have thought you were crazy. Saying it right now, I almost bust out laughing. That’s how ridiculous it is.”
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