OFFSTAGE: Blake Shelton: From $40 to The Voice

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

The first time Blake Shelton earned money for a performance, he was only about 15. He got $40 for playing the McSwain Theatre in Ada, Okla. He told Cowboys & Indians magazine that until then, it hadn’t crossed his mind that he could ever make a living making music.

“One day, after about the sixth or seventh time that I performed there, the guy that owned the show came up and handed me $40. And I was stunned. I was just beside myself,” Shelton said. “I was 15, 16 years old – I can’t remember which – and I just stood there thinking, ’What the hell just happened? I just got money?’ Because, hey, I would have paid him for the chance to play there. It was a really big moment for me.”

And now, 20 years after that first paying job, he’s still making music, and helping new singers get their start on The Voice. But when he started on the show, Shelton admits he thought his co-judges (Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine ) would be “all Hollywood” and that they’d all have entourages.

“But as it turns out, we all have so much in common, it’s frightening,” Shelton said. “I’d say we all let our guards down about halfway through season one. And now, especially that we’re into season three, I’ve never seen the four of us closer than we are now and working as well together.”

And I’m sure he’s making way more than $40 a night.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.