When “The Voice” returns on March 6, 2023, the show will not only feature two new judges but also its first celebrity “mega mentor.” Season 23 of the NBC talent show will bring back coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, who’s announced it will be his final season, and new coaches Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan.
On February 22, NBC announced via press release that it will also bring in country legend Reba McEntire to serve as its “mega mentor,” advising contestants who have made it through the Battle rounds as they prepare for the Knockouts. It won’t be her first time on “The Voice,” but it will make for an interesting on-screen reunion between her and Clarkson, who used to be McEntire’s daughter-in-law. Here’s what you need to know:
Reba McEntire Turned Down Offer to Coach ‘The Voice’ During Its First Season
The Blind Auditions for season 23 of “The Voice” were taped in the fall of 2022 and, according to entertainment blogger MJ Santilli, the Battle Rounds took place in front of a live audience in January 2023. Tapings of the Knockout Rounds with McEntire have not been announced yet, but NBC says they’ll begin airing on April 17.
In its announcement, NBC said McEntire has had “unprecedented success” in her country career, with 35 Number One singles and more than 58 million albums sold worldwide. She holds the record for the most Top 10 hits among female artists, having recently earned her 60th Top 10 Country hit on the Billboard charts.
McEntire’s appearance marks the return of the mega mentor role, since season 22 didn’t have one. During season 21, in the fall of 2021, the role was filled by Ed Sheeran. NBC said it’s fitting for McEntire to return during Shelton’s final season, given that she served as a Battle Advisor to Team Blake during the show’s inaugural season.
According to Taste of Country, as NBC was first developing “The Voice,” McEntire was producers’ first choice for the coaching seat that Shelton wound up filling. On February 1, she told Entertainment Tonight that she recalls turning down the offer.
She said, “I got (a look at) the Holland version of ‘The Voice.’ They sent it to me and I said, ‘I can’t see me doing that.’ Because, you know, I’m a gypsy at heart.”
McEntire thought the schedule would be too confining for her, with so much time required for tapings and live shows in Los Angeles. When ET asked who she thinks should fill his chair after 23 seasons, she wasn’t sure.
“To fill Blake’s chair? Wow. That’s gonna be tough,” McEntire said. “He did a great job and kudos to him.”
Reba McEntire to Reunite On Screen With Former Daughter-in-Law Kelly Clarkson
McEntire’s return to “The Voice” will also serve as an on-screen reunion for her and Clarkson, who used to be her daughter-in-law. According to Us Weekly, McEntire was married to producer Narvel Blackstock from 1989 to 2015. But after their divorce, she remained close with her stepson, Brandon Blackstock, who married Clarkson in 2013. The couple divorced split in 2020 and went through a contentious divorce.
In October 2021, McEntire told Extra, “You know, I love them both. Brandon’s my stepson, Kelly’s my good friend. I am pulling for both of them. I hope they’re happy and healthy and pull through this.”
Rather than say at the time whether she’d given Clarkson any advice on getting through the divorce, McEntire said, “I pray everyone gives them the encouragement that they can because they need it right now, both of them do. I love them both with all my heart.”
Clarkson and Blackstock’s divorce wasn’t finalized until March 2022, according to People, when the singer and talk show host agreed to give her ex-husband a one-time payment of just over $1.3 million and monthly child support payments of $45,601 per month for their two children, River Rose and Remington Alexander.
Though Clarkson hasn’t publicly talked about her relationship with McEntire since the divorce, she has mentioned her former mother-in-law on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” such as when she shared old photos of them meeting country stars Shania Twain and Faith Hill.