Blake Shelton has made a name for himself with more than his music, but that’s the draw on Friday, when he makes his first Lubbock arena headlining appearance at 7 p.m. at the United Supermarkets Arena.
The 7 p.m. kickoff is due, in part, to Shelton’s decision to share the stage with three opening artists, ranging from veteran Trace Adkins to younger talents Carly Pierce and Brett Eldredge.
Reserved seats are $104, $78 and $51 (prices include service charges) at Select-A-Seat outlets. Snapping up last-minute tickets is no guarantee. The show is nearing sellout status, although single tickets are available in prime locations.
Shelton grew up in Ada, Oklahome, learned to play and compose music as a teenager, and hit the road for Nashville as soon as he graduated from high school at age 17.
He paid dues with music publishing firms, until Bobby Braddock helped him land a production contract in 1997. Shelton had moved to Giant Records by the time he released debut single “Austin” in 2001.
Looking back, if awards remain a sign of acceptance, if not stardom, consider that Shelton has earned nine Country Music Association awards, five Academy of Country Music awards, one Country Music Televisionaward for Artist of the Year and seven more CMT awards. Add to this eight American Country Awards, three People’s Choice awards, two American Music awards, one Billboard award, 24 from BMI and another 24 ASCAP awards.
It took him less than a decade to be asked to join the Grand Ole Opry, and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame inducted him in 2014.
The New York Times called Shelton “the most important and visible ambassador from Nashville to the American mainstream.” Rolling Stone called Shelton “one of country music’s biggest stars over the past decade.” Oh, and last year People magazine opted to name Shelton the “sexiest man alive.”
Shelton charted more than 30 singles, with two dozen rising to the No. 1 position. Yet many believe television reality show “The Voice” introduced Shelton to super stardom. He has been a judge and coach on all 13 seasons of “The Voice.” In fact, a member of his team ended up winning in seasons two, three, four, seven, 11 and 13.
His winners include Jermaine Paul, Casadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Craig Wayne Boyd, Sundance Head and Chloe Kohanski. He coached seven more young artists to runner-up positions.
Jeff Scott, program director for Lubbock country radio station KLLL (96.3 FM), took time to e-mail from Nashville, “Blake took several years to attain his superstar status. True, he did have several Top 10 songs early on, but his popularity shot to the next level after he became a judge on ‘The Voice.’ That’s when he became more than just a country music star.
“The last time I saw him perform live was about 10 years ago (actually 2006) at the annual KLLL free concert at the Panhandle-South Plains Fair, and I recall he had a great rapport with the audience. I still have not seen one of his arena shows.
“But Blake seems to have a grasp on who he is as an artist, and he stays in his lane when it comes to song selection. I don’t consider him a big risk taker at all when it comes to choosing songs to record.”
Scott agreed with many writers when he mentioned, “If anything, his social headlines have helped give Blake more name recognition.
“But I don’t think those headlines impacted his music career noticeably. I think he is at the top of his game right now, and he should remain there for the foreseeable future.”
Shelton, 41, continues to tour in support of his 11th recording, “Texoma Shore,” released in 2017.
In July 2017, Billboard magazine listed its picks for Shelton’s best 10 songs, and not all were No. 1 songs. From first to last: “The Baby,” “Ol’ Red,” “Lonely Tonight” with Ashley Monroe, “Austin,” “Boys ‘Round here” featuring Pistol Annie & Friends, “God Gave Me You,” “Goodbye Time,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” “Every Time I Hear That Song” and “Some Beach.”
Adkins, 56, was born in Sarepta, Louisiana. He was a walk-on offensive lineman at Louisina Tech, but left college when his football career gave way to a knee injury. He worked on oil rigs before eventually making the move to Nashville, where he was in his 30s when his first sing, “There’s a Girl in Texas,” cracked the top 20 on the country charts.
He has earned supporting roles and small parts in more than a dozen films.
In January 2017, Taste of Country magazine listed Adkins top 10 songs, “released since he first escaped the offshore louisiana oil rigs in 1996.”
They were, from top to bottom, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” “Arlington,” “I’m Tryin,” “Every Light in the House is On,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “Then They Do,” “Songs About Me,” “Just Fishin’,” “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” and “Jesus and Jones.”
A native of Paris, Illinois, Eldredge, 32, has released five albums since winning the Country Music Association’s New Artist of the Year” award in 2014. He also was nominated by the Academy of Country Music in 2016 for New Male Vocalist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.
Eldredge saw three singles from debut album “Bring You Back” make the Billboard charts: “Don’t Ya,” “Beat of the Music” and “Mean to Me.”
Presently, he is touring in support of his well-received self-titled recording, released in August 2017.
Yet another performer who recognized her career goal as a teenager, Pearce, 27, was born in Taylor Mill, Kentucky. At age 16, she dropped out of school and moved to Pigeon Ford, Tennessee, just so she could perform at Dollywood five times a week.
In 2016, she was a featured vocalist on The Josh Abbott Band’s “Wasn’t That Drunk.” She toured with JAB to perform the song, and also appeared in the band’s music videos for this tune. That led eventually to her own solo debut single, “Every Little Thing.”
In October 2017, her first full-length recording was released, also titled “Every Little Thing.”