Blake Shelton Was a Reality TV Star Before ‘The Voice’

It seems those known from established TV reality-competition shows have already participated in similar formats, if sometimes lesser form. The stars in question may not want those previous reality shows known, though, despite clips usually being dredged up when guests on talk shows.

Not much talk has been generated about Blake Shelton once judging on another show similar to NBC’s The Voice. Well, no, make that two similar shows.

By the time he was chosen for The Voice, he’d already had experience judging aspiring singers in a constructive way. While one of those shows was fairly well-known, the other has been mostly forgotten. There’s a good reason since it didn’t really gel with the musical mainstream.

Shelton first started judging on ‘Nashville Star’

Blake Shelton speaks onstage
Blake Shelton | Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images

Some might remember the competition show Nashville Star that worked similarly to American Idol and The Voice. This aired from 2003-2008 on USA Network first, then over to NBC in its final season.

A year before it ended, Shelton was brought in as a judge, giving him a four-year head-start on judging singers until The Voice began in 2011. One might guess Shelton was more at home on Nashville Star since everyone competing was in the country field.

During his time judging on The Voice, Shelton sometimes laments the lack of country talent available since the show tapes in Los Angeles. Not many country stars are trying to make it there and instead in Nashville, a city still deemed the country music capital of the world. 

Had Nashville Star kept going when it moved to NBC, he might have become a permanent judge there and felt more at home than he does mentoring wannabe pop stars for the last nine years.

Blake Shelton judged on another show with an unusual format

How many people today remember a brief NBC competition series called Clash of the Choirs? NBC was hoping this reality show would turn into a big hit, but it only aired over four nights during the holiday season of 2007.

The concept was to have 20-person choirs from specific American hometowns compete against one another. Celebrities who grew up in these cities/towns were brought in as coaches, one of which happened to be Blake Shelton.

He represented a choir from Ada, Oklahoma playing for charity money to Project Rebuild. Of course, this was a year before his brief appearance on Nashville Star, yet proving he was going to have a connection to NBC for a long time ahead.

However, critics savaged Clash of the Choirs, especially since it ushered in something daringly different for the time: A pleasant competition show without acerbic comments Simon Cowell style.

Shelton was kind of made to be an anti-Simon Cowell anyway

All the positivity Clash of the Choirs brought for four nights in December of 2007 was really paving a path toward similar shows arriving in more recent years. Oddly enough, feel-good reality shows are now becoming the norm after the darker formats began to somewhat diminish. Even Cowell himself has become softer on America’s Got Talent.

Blake Shelton, on the other hand, has never taken a critical path to being a judge. Whether on Nashville Star or Clash of the Choirs, he’s always been the nice guy on the judging panel.

On The Voice, all of the judges act respectable toward the contestants, if being acerbic to one another. No wonder the writers on the show tried to create friction between Blake and Adam Levine.

When faux fights were attempted between Shelton and Gwen Stefani, they didn’t really bite. Now everyone knows where Shelton helped shape the new reality show precedent.