The world has finally learned what country fans have known since the beginning - Blake Shelton is superstar material.
Shelton is the breakout star of NBC's "The Voice," a show that gave the handsome Oklahoman the spotlight his fans have long hoped he'd get. Week after week, millions have gotten to see the talent and charisma that have made him one of country music's brightest lights.
Perhaps no one summed it up better than Entertainment Weekly editor-at-large Ken Tucker, who cited Shelton's "steady transformation into a real TV star, a country sage whose charm is squarely in the great TV traditions of Roger Miller, Jimmy Dean, and Tennessee Ernie Ford."
None of that is news to those who have watched Shelton's career unfold. Ever since the power and drama of his 2001 debut single "Austin" brought him to national attention, he has proven himself to be one of the genre's most versatile and accomplished vocalists as well as one of its most compelling entertainers. Shelton's first and only holiday album, "Cheers, It's Christmas," will be available everywhere on October 2, 2012 on Warner Bros. Records. The album will feature several duet performances including fellow advisor on "The Voice," Michael Buble, long-time friend, Reba McEntire and a very special duet that he co-wrote and performs with his mother, Dorothy Shackleford. The album includes classic Christmas songs that have touched Shelton over the years.
His versatility is evident in the wide range of singles he has made his own. He has proven his ability with the stark drama of "The Baby" and "Home," the honest regret of "She Wouldn't Be Gone," the warm intimacy of "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," the celebration of the moment in "All About Tonight," and the over-the-top fun of "Hillbilly Bone." His skill as an entertainer is apparent every time he takes the stage and carries fans on one of music's most enjoyable journeys.
The first four singles from his Grammy-nominated Country Album of the Year, "Red River Blue," have all peaked at No. 1 on the charts. Blake has had seven consecutive No. 1 singles and 12 overall. "Honey Bee," "God Gave Me You," "Drink on It" and "Over" only hint at the riches inside "Red River Blue."
Shelton's latest runs the gamut of everything he does well, from the romance of "Over," with its big chorus and passionate vocals, to the clever wordplay and pure country fun of "Hey" and "Get Some." There is also "Ready to Roll," a laid-back celebration of love and leisure, "Good Ole Boys," with its echoes of Waylon and its nod to country boys in a hip-hop world, "I'm Sorry," which displays one of the biggest voices in the genre closing the door on a love gone wrong, and the title track, a classic-sounding look at separation and longing with guest vocals from Miranda Lambert.
If it sounds like more than even a dreamer such as Shelton could have envisioned, you'll get no argument from the man himself: "If you'd have told me a few years back that my life would be this good," he said, "I'd have told you that you were crazy. But I'll damn sure take it."
The journey has been a testament to the talent, the persistence and the sheer dynamism Shelton brings to the table. He left Ada, Oklahoma, at 17 - two weeks out of high school - for Nashville after encouragement from legendary songwriter ("Heartbreak Hotel") Mae Axton. He met and worked with another legend - Bobby Braddock ("He Stopped Loving Her Today") - and earned a deal on Giant Records. It would be several years before that led to a contract with Warner Bros. and "Austin," which launched his career. Since then, his star power, world-class voice and irreverent personality have brought him the acclaim that has translated so well from the world of country music to a wider audience.
"I'm still learning, still reaching and growing," he said. "And it's great to have more and more people along for the ride."