When “The Voice” returns to NBC for its 24th season on September 25, 2023, it will be the first time the singing competition has aired without longtime coach Blake Shelton, who retired from the show after the 23rd season finale in May.
With such big boots to fill, NBC convinced country music legend Reba McEntire, who’s often called the “Queen of Country Music,” to take Shelton’s place following his retirement. But McEntire has admitted she’s feeling “a lot of pressure” taking Shelton’s seat on the coaching panel and is looking to her castmates for tips.
Here’s what you need to know:
Reba McEntire Says She’s Received Lots of Good Insights From Her Fellow ‘The Voice’ Coaches
Despite overcoming all kinds of obstacles in her nearly 50-year career and appearing on “The Voice” in the past as a mentor, McEntire told Newsweek that she’s felt the pressure of stepping in for the much-beloved Shelton.
“It’s a lot of pressure, because nobody can replace Blake Shelton,” she said. “He’s a huge personality and a wonderful person. So I’m just getting in there trying to have fun and represent country music as best I can.”
McEntire revealed that “The Voice” approached her to join the coaching panel 15 years ago, but she hated the idea of judging other people’s performances. However, she said her fellow coaches this season — John Legend, Gwen Stefani and last year’s winner, Niall Horan — have taught her how to let contestants down gently.
“I can’t be a mean judge,” McEntire told Newsweek. “I mean, when I turned it down 15 years ago, when they wanted me to do ‘The Voice,’ I said, ‘I can’t tell anybody that they’re horrible.’ I can’t say to somebody, ‘Well is your mama gonna meet you at the bus station? Because you’re going home.’ I can’t do that.”
“So I learned from John, Gwen and Niall,” McEntire continued. “Every day that we’re working on ‘The Voice,’ I’m learning more from them how to let ’em down easy if they don’t get picked up, coach ’em, and if you can give them any advice whatsoever. Like, if none of the coaches turn around, they’re going home immediately. And so it’s good just to say, ‘If you want to, come back again, try it again next season, maybe a song that suits you, one that you’re really comfortable with and that really shows your talent.’ Give them advice and encourage them to come back.”
“Well there’s a couple of things about Reba that makes her so special,” he said. “First of all, she’s just so authentic. I don’t know anybody country, or on the planet, (who is more authentic than) Reba, and that’s just the truth, but the other thing is her talent… She was born with this raw, natural talent that’s just unbelievable.”
Reba McEntire’s Impressed With Show’s Production, Including Her Red Chair
McEntire has had fun learning the ropes and realizing how, after so many seasons of success, “The Voice” is such a “well-oiled machine.”
“It’s a well-oiled machine, so getting in at this time is marvelous,” she told Newsweek. “Everybody knows the game plan, from the crew, the producers. Everybody on the show is so nice, so sweet and have been so helpful. I’m loving it.”
One of the many things she’s been impressed by is her fancy new chair, which mechanically turns at the push of a button when she’s enchanted by a contestant’s audition. On September 15, McEntire shared an Instagram video filmed on her first day on set as she was first shown her red seat with her first name emblazoned on the back.
A member of the production crew showed McEntire special features of her chair, including drink holders, built-in speakers by her ears to hear the singers, a heated seat in case the studio feels chilly.
Wide-eyed, McEntire exclaimed, “Y’all aim to please here!”
Season 24 of “The Voice” kicks off on September 25 on NBC, airing Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern time and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time.