Fans of The Voice have watched Blake Shelton turn his red chair as the show's resident country music coach since its premiere in 2011, but the "Happy Anywhere" singer wasn't the competition series' first choice for the spot. During a recent appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Reba McEntire explained why she turned down a job on the show, explaining that she wasn't interested in handing out criticism.
"It was a very popular show in Holland, I'm pretty sure, and I watched the tape and I said 'No, I'm going to pass on that, because I don't think I'd ever be able to tell somebody that they're terrible, or 'Go find another job' or 'Hope you like your night time job,'" McEntire recalled. "I couldn't do that, day in and day out. I just couldn't do it. So I did pass on it."
The Grammy winner praised Shelton for his work on the show, calling him "the perfect choice." "He's done a wonderful job," she said. McEntire joked that she regretted not taking the show up on its offer. "After you see a very successful show that's been running, what, 15 years? Uh, yeah," she said. "I'm like, 'Shoot, I should have done that!'"
Shelton first revealed that McEntire had been offered a coaching spot in November 2019. Producers had reached out to McEntire's then-husband Narvel Blackstock, who was also her manager and Shelton's manager, and asked if she would be interested. After McEntire said no, Shelton's name was brought into the conversation.
"If I’m not mistaken, they wanted Reba to be a coach on The Voice first," Shelton said, according to The Ty Bentli Show. "I hope I’m not saying something I shouldn’t say. It’s out there now. But they wanted Reba, and they knew they wanted a country artist to be a coach on The Voice to fill that lane. So, Narvel told them Reba can’t do it, but 'Hey, I got this other guy that I manage that’s got all the time in the world.'"
"They called Starstruck, and Reba at the time, you know, for whatever reason, I can’t remember," Shelton added, musing that McEntire may have turned the show down due to her schedule. "She may have had her Malibu Country show going at the time, for whatever reason, she couldn’t do it, or they just decided it wasn’t the thing for her at the time."
He also joked that he understands how the pitch for the series may have come across. "What is The Voice? It sounds dumb, right?'" he joked. "I don’t know, I’m Reba McEntire. I’m in this chair and I hit a button and my chair turns around. Like, it sounded weird to probably anybody they pitched it to, honestly.”