Blake Shelton called his current run of arena shows the Doing it to Country Songs tour.
It’s a playful description of what the singer does on stage.
“Performing for an audience is what I love most – and if you’re coming to see me, you’re coming to hear country music, because that’s what I do,” Shelton said when he announced the tour, which stops Friday, March 3, at Fresno’s Save Mart Center. The name comes from a track on his latest album, which is a collaboration with the Oak Ridge Boys that got some fanfare when they performed it together at the CMT Music Awards last year.
That’s fairly standard procedure.
Artists often brand their tour and album cycles together. And Shelton is riding high on the success of “If I’m Honest.” The album was released in June and landed No. 3 on Billboard’s Top 200. It was No. 1 on the country albums chart and reestablished the singer as one the industry’s leading men. For proof: It earned him the People’s Choice Award for favorite album, a recognition normally awarded to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake. Shelton is the first country artist to win the award. He beat out Drake and Beyonce.
But Shelton could have as easily called this “The Voice” tour.
That would be both in reference to his spot as judge/mentor on the seminal NBC competition show, which kicked off a new season this week, and the fact that the tour openers – country singer RaeLynn and Sundance Head – are both former members of Team Blake.
Shelton announced the tour in November via Facebook live, in a “Newlyweds”-styled skit with RaeLynn. The pair have been close since the second season of “The Voice,” in which Shelton coached the young singer into the quarterfinals. Since then, RaeLynn has become a rising star. She was a CMT Next Women of Country honoree and one of Pandora Radio’s country artists to watch in 2017. Her debut “Wildhorse” will be released on Warner Music Nashville March 24.
In a way, “The Voice” was perfect prep for RaeLynn’s career.
Before the show, she had never played with a full band or performed in front of any kind of major crowds. She also never realized her voice was something special.
“I always thought I had an OK voice,” she says, talking by phone in advance of Friday’s tour stop.
More than that, the show gave her access to an almost instant fan base.
“It would have taken years to get those fans,” she says.
Still, it’s been five years since RaeLynn has been on the show. That’s five years of working her butt off in Nashville, she says. “The Voice” offers a platform. It doesn’t ensure any kind of success. That’s up to the artist: “You still have to do work after that.”
In January, Shelton announced Sundance Head would also join the tour.
The Texas country singer is coming off of his win last season on “The Voice,” with his song “Darlin’ Don’t Go.”
The win was Shelton’s fifth as a coach on the show. It was actually Head’s second go at becoming a reality competition star. Head made it into the top 16 on season six of “American Idol” in 2007, the season that Jordon Sparks won.
“I’m just elated and really excited about being able to perform with a great entertainer and learn something from him while I’m on the road,” Head says in a release announcing his spot on the tour. “It’s going to be the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”
Ditto that for RaeLynn, who is excited to be touring with Shelton again.
The guy has become way more than just her coach on “The Voice,” she says. Since the show, Shelton has become a friend. He’s been there for the important moments, whether it was business stuff – like when she switched record labels – or personal. Shelton was there when RaeLynn met her husband. He threw them an engagement party.
“Blake is like my family,” RaeLynn says. “He’s just so easy to be around.”
Doing it to Country Songs tour
- 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3
- Save Mart Center
- 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com