The Voice Kicked Off Blake Shelton's Final Season With Some Sweet Personal Connections, But Kelly Clarkson Had A Different Take

Blake Shelton on The Voice.
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoiler alert! This story discusses The Voice Season 23 premiere that aired March 6, so consider yourself warned!

In case you hadn’t heard, The Voice’s Season 23 premiere was the first night of resident cowboy Blake Shelton’s final season. The country star was sure to repeat that fact multiple times during Part 1 of the Blind Auditions, and certainly for every artist he turned his chair for. What made it a particularly special night for Shelton was the fact that a couple of the contestants who took the stage shared personal connections to the singer, and while there were definitely sweet and sentimental moments, Kelly Clarkson kept it real with her own take on the situation. 

Artists Share Their Personal Experiences With Blake Shelton 

Holly Brand, a 22-year-old singer from Mississippi, shared that her first big moment as a performer came when she was just 10 years old and had the opportunity to open for Blake Shelton. She said that was the moment she knew she wanted to be an artist, and she even brought a photo they'd taken together at the show. You can see Brand’s full audition — including all of The Voice coaches huddled up to see the memento she brought — in the video below: 

Later on in the season premiere, an artist from Blake Shelton’s hometown of Ada, Oklahoma, and a regular performer at his bar Ole Red, took the stage. While Emily Rhyne failed to turn any chairs with her audition, she provided the country superstar (and the audience) with an amazing blast from Shelton’s past. First, she gifted the coach with a T-shirt signed by several local musicians from Ada, and then she really brought the goods.

Emily Rhyne’s grandfather was also a musician, and apparently when Blake Shelton was 13 years old, he asked his mom if he could go to the recording studio to “lay down some tracks.” Shelton corroborated the story, and Rhyne pulled out an audio recording of young Blake Shelton singing the country classic “Dumas Walker.” Check out that special moment:

Blake Shelton was a bit overcritical of his teenage self, commenting that he was under on the pitch, but man, what a treat for the rest of us!

Kelly Clarkson Makes A Hilarious But Sad Observation About Blake Shelton’s Gift-Givers 

Kelly Clarkson returned to The Voice for the Season 23 premiere, reigniting her rivalry with Blake Shelton from the jump. The two winningest coaches traded zingers all night, but it was her perspective on the artists who brought such thoughtful gifts for Shelton that probably stung the worst. She pointed out: 

Every time someone has a gift for Blake, he fails to turn, and I think that kills him. You feel bad.

I’m not sure she did feel all that bad, though, since she was laughing as she said it. While Emily Rhyne sadly got no turns, Holly Brand turned all the other artists’ chairs except for Blake Shelton’s. The cowboy said missing out on Rhyne was a “heartbreaker,” and he regretted not hitting his button. At least with Brand he’s got a chance to steal her in a future round, if Kelly Clarkson is willing to give her up!

That’s not the first time that’s happened, either. Back on Season 21, two contestants brought meaningful gifts for the Oklahoma native, and in that case as well, he had not turned for either of them, calling himself a “jackass.”

We’ll have to see if any more artists from Blake Shelton’s past make appearances on his final season — and if he’ll turn his chair for them if they do! The Voice Season 23 Blind Auditions continue at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, March 7, on NBC, and be sure to check out our 2023 TV schedule to see what other premieres are coming soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.