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‘The Voice’ coach Blake Shelton juggles TV, touring

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 19:04


When “The Voice” returned to NBC last month, vocal coach Blake Shelton was not around.

The country superstar, whose latest album is Red River Blue, was knee deep on his new tour, “Well Lit & Amplified,” with supporting acts Dia Frampton of “The Voice” and Justin Moore.

But fans of the country superstar didn’t need to worry.

The first several weeks of the second season of “The Voice,” which began February 5 after the Super Bowl, were already taped, which allowed Shelton to tour and return to “The Voice” in time for the live rounds.

Although Shelton will take a brief break to perform Saturday at Country Thunder.

“I’ve learned the hard way you can’t tour and do live TV at the same time. That sucks bad,” Shelton said.

“This year, I’m not touring when ‘The Voice’ starts airing live in the middle of March. Once we’re live, we shut it down and concentrate on the show. We have to make my show and my team as strong as it can be.”

“The Voice” was a strong performer in its first season, a rare bright spot on NBC’s prime-time schedule. Javier Colon was the winner of the inaugural season, which featured coaches Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine overseeing teams of contestants.

Frampton was part of Shelton’s team.

Sheltonsays the show’s immediate success was due to the novelty of having famous coaches work with the contestants.

“I think having the four of us on the show together helped make it interesting,” says Shelton, acknowledging that viewers probably didn’t know what to make of the show initially.

“I was skeptical. I wondered if people would tune in to see the first few episodes and never watch again. But once they did tune in to see what we were about, they were hooked. They realized it wasn’t just another talent show. (It was) artists working with other artists.”

The show has had its work cut out for itself in Season 2. When “The Voice” debuted last summer, it had no similar competition.

“American Idol” had just wrapped its season, and “The X Factor” had yet to air. This season, “The Voice” and “American Idol” will overlap.

“I’m interested to see what happens,” Shelton says. “Common sense says that’s our competition, the only competition there probably is. I don’t know. We’re two different things. We’re obviously both looking for the next big star out there. But the way we go about it is two completely different things, and I don’t think any one of them is wrong.

“If anything, I hope because we’re a newer concept and have different levels to go through that that will play into our hands.”

“The X Factor,” Simon Cowell’s competition series that ended its first season in December, and “The Voice” both have coaches, but Shelton says there’s a difference. On “The Voice,” all four of the coaches are performers. On “The X Factor,” two of the judges-coaches are industry executives Cowell and L.A. Reid, along with singer-dancer Paula Abdul and singer Nicole Scherzinger.

“The interesting thing about that for me is that with any one of the four of us, if we see something going on up there on stage, we can stop it and grab the microphone and sing as good or out-sing anyone on our team,” Shelton says. “That’s what we do.”

On Season 2 of “The Voice” teams increased to 12 people from eight. Shelton attributes this to a bigger talent pool this year.

For Shelton, “The Voice” has clearly filtered into other areas of his career. He found the perfect connection between the TV show and his tour when he decided to grab Frampton. Getting her to tour with him was a no-brainer, he says.

“When it came up, she was the first name I threw up there, for her to be a part of this,” Shelton says. “I pushed her over the edge of the cliff. I couldn’t leave her out there for the wolves.

“Now that she’s made a record, it was time to get her out there,” says Shelton, who guests on her album.

Moorewas another easy choice.

“That guy’s career is really taking off, and he’s developing a fan base,” Shelton says. “He puts on an awesome show — really gets people fired up. And that’s what I want, for people to walk away exhausted. He’ll contribute to that.”

Still, Shelton knows that many fans are waiting for him to tour with his wife, country star Miranda Lambert.

“That’s definitely something we talk about,” he says. “The trouble is, she and I are so unfocused on our future. It’s hard for us to put a plan together. But I know in our hearts we’ll do that. But it’ll take discipline on both our parts. We have to do it at some point.”

Sheltonapproached his tour from the perspective of a fan. He asked himself what he would want to see in concert — and the answer was everything.

“I want to hear every song the artist ever did,” he says. “That’s what I will try to do, have a packed set list. My career (is) going on 11 years now, so there’s a lot of songs that’ve dropped out of the set list because I didn’t have time to do them. I want to incorporate some of those songs back into the set, though they’re not recent hits.

“They’re still important to my overall catalog, and I love those moments when people in the audience are mouthing the words.”

The songs will be accompanied by what he says is his biggest production ever.

“It’s 10 times bigger, but it’s still not too big,” Shelton says. “I’m mainly, in my own small way, stepping into the big leagues, and I’m coming armed with cool stuff that’ll be fun to watch without distracting from the music.”

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