The Voice Adds Mega Mentor With Meaningful Ties To Both Kelly Clarkson And Blake Shelton

When The Voice returns for its latest season, which just so happens to be Blake Shelton’s final year with the long-running NBC series, it’s making some changes that stretch behind the coaching change-ups. And on top of all of that, fans can expect to see a true music legend as Season 23’s Mega Mentor, and one that shares personal ties of different values to both Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton that should make for a very interesting point in the season. 

Reba McEntire smiling shot for The Voice

(Image credit: NBC)

The Voice Welcomes Back Reba McEntire 

Season 23 will see the Grammy-winning multihyphenate icon Reba McEntire returning to The Voice as its latest Mega Mentor. This decision almost seems like a delayed prize for Blake Shelton having won out in his penultimate season, with Bryce Leatherwood taking home the metaphorical gold. Kelly Clarkson is quite familiar with the world of country music herself, even within the confines of The Voice’s competition, so she also has a bit of a leg up on the two newest coaches, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan. (I cannot wait to see Chance and Reba chatting it up, though.)

Reba McEntire’s return to the show for this season is quite meaningful for Shelton, while a personal connection with Clarkson is also in play. 

  • The very first season of The Voice featured Reba McEntire as a Battle Advisor for Team Blake, and later returned in Season 8, advising all four of the teams in Week 12. (Shelton’s competitors that cycle were Adam Levine, Pharrell and Christina Aguilera.) NBC’s announcement even drew attention to the fact that it’s “most fitting” for McEntire to return and give the country crooner a full-circle experience before bowing out.
  • Outside of The Voice, Kelly Clarkson used to call Reba McEntire her sorta-mother-in-law when she was married to Brandon Blackstock, the legend’s stepson in the years she was married to his father Narvel Blackstock. Granted, Clarkson and Blackstock went through a complicated, music-inspiring divorce that had them trading off their kids during the holidays. So will it be weird for the two to share the screen in Season 23? Unlikely, since they’ve maintained their respect and friendship for one another, and are total professionals otherwise.

Here’s hoping Reba McEntire’s return to The Voice boosts interest in the long-discussed revival of her sitcom Reba, with Lifetime’s TV movie Hammer having offered fans the latest co-star reunion

The Voice Season 23 Is Adding Some Notable Changes

Beyond the big news that Reba McEntire will lend her expert advice to the Battle Round victors, The Voice also revealed some rule shake-ups are coming, with one of them reversing a change from Season 22. 

There will be a "Playoff Pass" introduced for the Battle Rounds, with each coach getting one chance to send a singer straight through to the Playoff Rounds that will begin on May 1, on top of having a steal for this round. Theoretically, this means if one particular battle features two standout performances that blow everyone's minds, both artists could advance in huge ways without anyone being stolen.

The 24 contestants heading into the Knockouts, which doesn't include the four Playoff Pass recipients, won't have to worry about the three-way knockouts that curbed way too many competitors last season. Instead, the show is going back to its' paired-up Knockouts, with one steal available for coaches in this round as well. 

The Playoffs will feature the final 20 hopefuls, with two singers from each team advancing to the live semi-finals that will kick off on NBC on Monday, May 15, at 8:00 p.m. 

Nothing too radical this time around, and I'm sure many other fans out there will be as pleased as I am to see the three-way Knockouts getting sidelined. Assuming the coaches don't make the worst choices with their Playoff Pass choices, that change could be a winner that sticks around in future seasons. Now we just have to start thinking about who could replace Blake Shelton in Season 24, beyond the singer's own suggestions.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.