Blake Shelton stays grounded

By John Benson

There’s something special about celebrities who convince audiences they’re as normal as they come.

That is, that person could sit in your living room, crack a cold one and shoot the breeze about whatever’s going on in your life. In a cowboy hat-shaped nutshell, that’s Blake Shelton.

It’s not a stretch to say others with his credentials would let their ego run wild.

The Oklahoma native is a star on the NBC reality show “The Voice” and recently notched his 12th No. 1 hit with “Over.”

Let’s not forget, he’s also married to fireball country singer Miranda Lambert.

“If you’d have told me a few years back that my life would be this good, I’d have told you that you were crazy,” said Shelton in his press materials. “But I’ll damn sure take it.”

Shelton has come a long way since he left Ada, Okla., two weeks out of high school for Nashville after receiving encouragement from legendary songwriter Mae Axton (“Heartbreak Hotel”). He met and worked with another legend in Bobby Braddock (“He Stopped Loving Her Today”), which earned him a deal on Giant Records.

It would be several years before that led to a contract with Warner Bros. that launched his career. Since then, his star power, world-class voice and irreverent personality have brought him the acclaim that has translated so well from the world of country music to a wider audience.

Even though Shelton acknowledges his celebrity is now more than that of just a country-music singer, he’s not turning his back on the folks who brought him to the dance in the first place.

“Long before ‘The Voice,’ the only place you could hear my voice was on country radio,” Shelton said. “I owe a lot of my success to the support of my fans and radio.”

Now Shelton comes back to Northeast Ohio for his second-straight Canfield Fair appearance Sunday in the grandstand. The laid-back artist is touring his Grammy Award-nominated album “Red River Blue.”

His sixth studio effort includes a wide range of sounds and vibes, including the romantic “God Gave Me You,” the playful “Hey,” the old-school “Good Ole Boys” and the traditional title track. The latter includes guest vocals from Mrs. Shelton. As for his future, well, it appears to be getting brighter every year.

“I’m still learning, still reaching and growing,” Shelton said. “It’s great to have more and more people along for the ride.”

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