Ever since releasing his debut single “Austin” in 2001, Blake Shelton’s career has been on an upward climb. First he conquered the country music world, becoming a superstar by the late 2000s. Then he took on the TV world as a judge on NBC’s singing competition show, The Voice, starring on the show for the past ten years and becoming a household name. Shelton has been outspoken on social media in the past, and news of his life has often been publicized in the press. Due to this, one may think they know everything there is to know about Shelton, but here are 10 things you may not know about the country legend.
- He had obvious musical talent as a child.
Some artists don’t find their musical knack until later in life, but for Shelton, that talent was pretty apparent at a young age. He began singing around age 12 and was taught how to play the guitar by his uncle. He wrote his first song at age 15 and soon began playing local venues in his home state of Oklahoma. When he 16, he won the Denbo Diamond Award, an award given to young Oklahoma performers, which surely propelled the singer to pursue music as career. By the time Shelton graduated high school, there was no doubt about what he wanted to do, and he moved to Nashville two weeks later.
2. He wrote his first song about a crush.
Speaking of that first song he wrote when he was 15, it turns out the song was about one of his young crushes, which isn’t entirely surprising considering his age. The song was called “That Girl Made A Fool Out of Me,” and was reportedly written after the girl he liked revealed her feelings for someone else. It’s not likely that fans will ever get the hear the song, as Shelton once called it “in the Top 10 of worst songs ever written in the history of the earth,” but the lyric sheet was on display at his 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit.
3. His young talents went beyond music.
Shelton started seriously learning music in his adolescence, but his first foray into the entertainment scene was through pageantry. When he was about 8 years old, Shelton participated in Valentine’s pageant — for girls. According to Shelton, doing the pageant was his mom’s way of getting her son experience singing onstage, so it wasn’t a bad move!
“There was a talent portion of the pageant,” Shelton told Entertainment Tonight. “In order for me to sing in the pageant, like my mom wanted me to, I had to do the evening wear and all that crap.”
4. His mullet will never be forgotten.
Fans who are new to country music may just know Shelton with the medium length hair he has now, but those people would be missing out on Shelton’s fabulous hair of the ‘90s and early 2000s. It’s hard to forget the mullet Shelton sported in his early days, which can be seen in the music videos for “Austin,” “Ol’ Red,” and “The Baby,” among others. Although the mullet has been long gone for a while, Shelton’s fellow country star friends, and the singer himself, have often joked about his old ‘do.
5. He has experienced great tragedy.
Blake Shelton is known as an outspoken and funny guy, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his share of sadness in his life. Shelton experienced tragedy at age 14 when his older brother Richie passed away in a car accident. 22 years after his brother’s death, Shelton wrote about his grief with ex-wife Miranda Lambert in “Over You,” which was then recorded by Lambert. The song took home the CMA Award for Song of the Year as well as the ACM Awards for Song and Single of the Year. Although Lambert and Shelton have been divorced since 2015, she recently chatted about writing the song with him.
6. He almost released a Toby Keith Hit.
After he moved to Nashville, Blake Shelton connected with hit songwriter Bobby Braddock, who helped Shelton get his first record deal with Giant Records. As Shelton was readying his debut single and album, Braddock brought him “I Wanna Talk About Me,” which was set to be released as Shelton’s first single. The song was rejected by his record label, however, and later became a hit for Toby Keith. Instead, Shelton opted for a more emotional lead single that has stood the test of time.
7. His debut single has staying power.
When “I Wanna Talk About Me” didn’t work out as Blake Shelton’s first single, he recorded the legendary “Austin” instead. In this classic story song, Shelton sets the scene of two lovers who have lost contact with one another, but communicate through their outgoing voicemail messages. The couple finally reunites at the end of the song when the woman finally picks up the phone. The single flew to the top of the charts and spent a whopping five weeks there. Even today, “Austin” is still regarded as one of Shelton’s best songs, and he celebrated the 20th anniversary of the tune with a performance on the 2021 ACM Awards on April 18th.
8. He recorded a song with his mom.
Shelton’s mother Dorothy Shackleford was the first person to encourage Shelton to sing onstage during that Valentine’s Pageant, and she was featured on one of Shelton’s songs in 2012. The song is called “Time For Me To Come Home,” and it’s a sweet Christmas tune from his Cheers, It’s Christmas album. Shackleford can be heard singing in the second verse and throughout the rest of the song with her son.
9. He’s had some heroic moments.
Shelton has proven a couple of times that when someone needs help or someone has done something wrong, he jumps in and does what’s needed. One example of this is when he rescued an Oklahoma man who was caught waist-deep in flood waters in 2015. The man was attempting to push his truck up a hill through the water, and that’s when Shelton pulled up, towed the man out, and took him home.
Shelton also jumped into action back in 2007 when an intoxicated man broke into his uncle’s home in Oklahoma. Shelton detained the man until the police arrived, after which the man was charged with first-degree robbery and public intoxication. Shelton’s mother described the situation to The Ada News, saying, “Blake knocked on the door and the man sort of stumbled over and opened it, and Blake said, ‘Hey, you’re in my house man.’”
10. He always gives back.
Shelton has had an incredibly successful career in music and entertainment, and he always makes sure to give back to those who need it. Throughout his career, Shelton has donated to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conversation, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, his town of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, Gatlinburg-Pittman High School’s music programs, the MusicCares COVID-19 relief fund and more.