‘The Voice’: Blake Shelton Reflects On His ‘Bittersweet’ Farewell

Blake Shelton has closed one of the most significant eras of his life. The Grand Ole Opry member just wrapped up his final season of The Voice, as the only coach who has been part of the show since it began in 2012.

“Can’t believe it’s been 23 seasons of [The Voice]… and especially can’t believe today is my final episode,” Shelton shared on social media, along with a series of photos. “It’s bittersweet. When we signed up for season 1, I don’t think any of us knew what this was going to be. These past 12 years I have made lifelong friends and memories.

“I’ve had the great opportunity to coach some really talented artists, 9 who have taken home #TeamBlake wins (let’s make that 10 tonight?), and watch these artists grow so much from the show,” he continued. “Thank you to everyone… the crew, the coaches, the contestants, the fans, and my wife who have made these some really great years. Love y’all!!!!!!”

Unfortunately, Shelton didn’t win his final season on The Voice, with his teammate Grace West coming in second to Niall Horan’s teammate, Gina Miles, who was crowned the winner.

As Shelton wound down his time on The Voice, he said he was eager for his next chapter, one that allowed him more time with his wife,  Gwen Stefani, and her three sons.

“I’m excited. I’m in a good place about this,” Shelton told Entertainment Tonight. “I don’t have any regrets about it. I’m definitely going to miss it at times, but it’s time.”

“I want to finally have the opportunity to say yes to more stuff in my personal life, and not say, ‘Let me check,’ or just flat-out no,” he added.

Shelton, who as honored with a tribute by several of his former teammates during The Voice finale, already had some success in country music prior to being invited to be part of The Voice. But no one, especially Shelton, could have predicted the impact The Voice would have on his life and career.

“I think it’s been the most important chapter of my life,” Shelton told Extra. “If I look back at everything, all the way back to being a kid back in Oklahoma, I think so many things happened during this portion of my life since signing on to this show, and what it did for my personal life, what it did for my career, new friends I’ve made. It’s just been a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

“I’ve had a lot of friends who have been very successful in this business, who told me early on when The Voice took off, it’s like, ‘This’ll never happen again, just so you know. Very few times does a show become this big, and you get to take this ride,'” he added. “And now looking back after 12 years, I can see what they mean… It’s like hitting the lottery getting to be a part of something this special.”

Fans might be sad to see Shelton exit The Voice, but he originally planned on leaving long before now, ultimately saying longer than he intended when the coronavirus pandemic made The Voice go virtual.

“My plan was honestly not even to be here this season,” Shelton reveals. “We had agreed a couple of seasons back was going to be my last season. I didn’t want to leave during the COVID years; that would have not been the right thing to do for the network and for all my friends here. So I stayed on through that, and we finally just got to the point where it was like, ‘Okay, we’ll let you go now,’ because I didn’t want to turn my back on my family here when they needed me. I stayed a little longer than I had planned on, but now I’m glad I didn’t now.”

Shelton will no longer be part of The Voice, but he is leaving his job in capable hands. Reba McEntire, who was originally invited to join The Voice before Shelton, but turned it down, will replace him for Season 24.

“I’m excited about Reba coming on board,” Shelton told E! News. “It’s meant to be, I think. I think from the versions of the story that I’ve heard, she was the original coach that they wanted here on The Voice, to be the country representation. And so now that I’ve had my run, for her to finally get the job that she was meant to have to begin with, it will be fun. I know she’s a fan of the show, and so she’s probably had ideas of how she would do this for a long time anyway.

“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for those kids to get a chance to work with Reba,” he added. “She’s one of my heroes. She’s an icon.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC / Trae Patton