Blake Shelton Is in the Holiday Mode

TV Reality Show and Trips to Oklahoma and Texas Are on His Christmas Agenda

Blake Shelton is making a list and checking it twice — mainly to figure out where he’ll be during the holiday season. In addition to visiting his family in Oklahoma and relatives of his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert in Texas, he’ll also be performing New Year’s Eve in Kentucky.

Before any of that happens, though, he’ll be spending several days in New York City to work on the TV reality series, Clash of the Choirs, which runs Monday through Thursday nights (Dec. 17-20) on NBC. The competition centers around five celebrities who returned to their hometowns to form an amateur choir to compete live as viewers judge the nightly performances.

“All I knew was that there were 20 voices in the choir, and I had to go back to my hometown to put it together,” he said during an interview at CMT’s offices. “Almost 400 people came out to audition for the choir. There are some phenomenal singers in Oklahoma. I don’t know why or where they come from or if it’s just in the water.”

The other celebrity choir leaders are Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey and Kelly Rowland. Shelton has never met any of them.

“My mother is so excited,” he said. “She told, ‘Do you know who all you’re going against in this competition? Michael Bokey is one, and he’s one of my favorites.’ So I’m actually going to fly my mother to New York to be a part of this show with me, so maybe she can meet Michael Bokey — hopefully face to face.”

Explaining that it’s his mother’s first trip to New York, he said, “She’s never really done that much traveling. New York City is just something she’s seen on television. And it is for me, too, for that matter. The times I’ve been there have been very quick, and I never got over that overwhelmed feeling while I was there. So we have about a week to catch the city and see some neat things.”

Once the winning choir is determined, Shelton will be returning to Oklahoma to visit his family.

“Even though my parents have been divorced since I was 9, we still get together,” he said. “My dad and stepmother and my mom and stepdad — the entire bunch — all get together for one dinner. That’s pretty unique. Not a lot of divorced parents do that. But that get-together is really important.”

However, that holiday tradition may be a little rushed this year.

“We’re doing what I call the Christmas tour of 2007, which is a day at my house in Oklahoma and a day at my family’s house in Oklahoma,” he said. “Then the tour heads south to Miranda’s hometown in Texas where there will be a three-day tour from one family to the next. So Christmas is a five-day tour for me this year, and I can promise you I will be living the lyrics of ‘The More I Drink’ by the last couple of days there.”

Lambert recently announced what she wants for a Christmas gift — a pair of diamond earrings.

“When she told me, I’m thinking that for $600 or $800, I’ll get her some nice earrings,” he said. “I’m finding out now that we’re talking like $3,000 and $5,000 is what you’ve got to spend.” Joking, he adds, “Miranda is a star. She can’t be wearing the earrings that I want her to wear that are like $300. … She is in the middle of this celebrity fashion show that I could give a crap about. But it’s now going to cost my ass $3,000 or $5,000 when I could have been buying some nice deer stands or four-wheelers instead.”

When it’s suggested that there’s a store in New York called Tiffany’s that should have a good assortment of diamond earrings, Shelton laughs and says, “Yeah, well, maybe you should go there and buy somebody something.”

Shelton’s favorite Christmas gift of all time is a Remington model 243 deer rifle his parents got him when he was 16.

“It wasn’t all about the rifle,” he said. “That was my parents saying to me, ‘You’re growing up. You’re becoming an adult. We trust you to make the right decisions. We trust you to have this rifle and not do something stupid.’ I took that very seriously. I took that as a step towards becoming an adult. That was a really big deal to me. I still have that rifle, and it’s still my favorite, but it’s more a symbol of growing up and trust than anything else.” With another laugh, he added, “So get your kids a gun for Christmas!”

Shelton will be performing Dec. 31 in Lexington, Ky. Asked to recall his most interesting experience playing a New Year’s Eve show, he cites a gig a few years ago at Cowboys, a honky-tonk located in Dallas.

“It’s the tradition of that particular bar that when the clock strikes 12, they come up with these enormous bottles of champagne that weigh, like, 60 pounds,” he said. “They’re huge. You open them, and it sprays all over the crowd. But there’s a lot of dead time up there, and I’m still supposed to be the guy who everybody came there to see. And I had been drinking that night, believe it or not. I had some really off-color poems that I had learned in high school that involved cursing and gross things. And I thought it would be funny and a big hit if I started to recite some of these poems to the crowd.

“I have never since then done anything to receive as much hate mail and comments from the crowd — and people leaving — as that moment. So I learned early on, after I started having some hits, where to draw the line. And even though I’m up there partying and making an idiot of myself, I don’t really have to spread that throughout the crowd.”

He acknowledged that one of the poems was titled “Little Birdie.” Asked whether the verse included the word “Nantucket,” he replied, “No, my poems are never of a sexual nature — never. But they are equally inappropriate.”

Shelton will be blogging after each Clash of the Choirs telecast. Be sure and check it out.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.