His tour was shuttered, her designer garb hung up, and yet the couple of five years swore they've never had a better summer. Enjoy their tales from life on the Oklahoma ranch.
Blake Shelton really couldn't be more all of us in 2020.
Teleconferencing into The Ellen DeGeneres Show Sept. 28 to discuss the upcoming 19th(!) season of The Voice and his thriving Smithworks Vodka brand, the 44-year-old country music superstar declared his new mantra for the waning months: "2020 sucks and I refuse to spend another minute of it sober."
He could trace the bad times back, really, to losing Best Country Solo Performance to Willie Nelson at January's Grammys, one of the last times he was able to celebrate with his contemporaries in person, with the second big blow coming not quite two months later. On March 12, he was in Omaha, Neb., overseeing the stage setup for the that night's performance, the 12th date of his Friends and Heroes 2020 tour, when he was forced to make the call.
Girlfriend Gwen Stefani was with him, the two set to take the stage together to belt out their single "Nobody But You," with her film producer brother Todd Stefani capturing footage for a live video.
"We had a whole plan," Shelton noted to host Ellen DeGeneres. "And then we obviously, like everybody else in the world, just pulled the plug on the thing and went to Oklahoma."
Because after that, there was little else to do except decamp to his sprawling 1,200-acre ranch where he'd crown the 18th winner of The Voice virtually on the May season finale and otherwise just…hang.
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happy birthday @blakeshelton thank u for being my best friend 🥳🎂gx #luckyme #june18th
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Fortunately he truly could be happy anywhere with Gwen.
While the world is waiting for music's most endearing opposites—marking their fifth anniversary this month—to just get married already, they're pretty content with the status quo. Having already pulled each other out of the depths of heartbreak, two pals and coworkers coming together as they were each reeling from the end of their respective marriages, whiling away a few months watching flowers bloom in Tishomingo beside your best friend ain't too shabby.
"It was cool because Gwen's—the time that she spent in Oklahoma over the years has been like a week here, a week there," Shelton noted to DeGeneres of the stretch that saw them quarantining in the small lakeside town from March to late July. "But she got to be there and actually see it go from pretty much winter, to spring, to summer, and see some seasons change. And it's actually the first time that I've been able to be there for that long to see all that happen again. So we loved it."
Throw in frequent visits from her sons with ex-husband Gavin Rossdale—Kingston, 14, Zuma, 12, and Apollo, 6—along with her brother's brood and a friend or two and you've got quite the fun summer vacation. The group of California transplants "all seemed to love their time outside of the city with plenty of space and being outdoors," an insider tells E! News. "Blake is a great host and has made everyone feel welcome. They are all one big family."
Now fully past those early days when Shelton was marveling about how the ska rocker from Orange County, Calif., had entered his world after his split from fellow country powerhouse Miranda Lambert and "saved my life," the two have settled into the type of solid partnership that can easily survive the months in isolation that have rocked so many other celeb pairs.
Sure, they had a bit of work to focus on, culling together home footage for their joint "Happy Anywhere" single, for starters.
"I don't know why over the years I've kind of become a video camera geek, even though I don't even know how to work these things," Shelton confessed to DeGeneres of their July release. "I've got a few cameras that I have no business owning, let's be honest." Fortunately, as a film producer, he continued, Stefani's brother is "really good at all that stuff."
So when they decided to put out a little brightness into the world, they realized they could combine the five years' worth of home movies, vacation footage and snippets of their afternoons on Lake Texoma with a few hours of filming on the ranch. "So Todd got the camera out and we shot a few set ups of us singing the song," Shelton explained. "And he edited that thing and then put the video together. And it ends up being maybe my favorite video I've ever had, just because it's just so honest and real, you know."
Plus it gave the rest of us a look at what the two are like when they're not gussied up for The Voice cameras or red carpet photographers, label-loving Stefani trading her Vivienne Westwood wares and signature red lip for the cowboy boots she's spent the last five years wearing in.
With no in-person events to attend or arenas packed with people to entertain, the couple relished simply being together in a way not always possible when you have two thriving music empires to tend to. "We've been doing things that I've wished I had time to do for the last 20 years," Shelton said during a July appearance on Today.
Before returning to their $13 million San Fernando Valley mansion to start shooting the audition segments of their NBC juggernaut, their daily agenda included tending to their garden, blackberry picking and gaping at the animals that tended to roam around their massive property. (Well, that, and the occasional ill-advised home haircut.)
"It was me, my three boys, Blake, and then my brother, his wife, their two little babies, kids, and then her sister and then a friend," Stefani detailed to Jimmy Kimmel Live guest host Dua Lipa of those early weeks. "It was really actually a lot of fun at first. Because it's like, all of the sudden, work is over and you just get to indulge."
And for her and her boys that meant endless stretches to enjoy the types of activities that had Stefani gushing to Marie Claire about the welcome change in scenery afforded to her in the Midwest. "We cook and get muddy and dirty," she told the mag in 2017. "There are ATVs. Being a mother of three boys, it's kind of the perfect place."
So in between baking loafs of sourdough bread, they made good use of their acres of social distancing-friendly space. "The kids have had a fun summer in Oklahoma at the lake fishing and swimming," the source tells E! News. "They spend a lot of time outdoors and its completely different from their life in L.A. They ride ATVs and horses at the ranch and have learned a different way of life. They love their time there."
Ditto Stefani, who told Dua Lipa she still can't believe how much she enjoys this slice of Americana.
"I grew up in Orange County, so I don't know if you've been down there, but it's nothing like the middle of America and our nature was the beach," she explained. "So to be able to be in Oklahoma and be able to experience a ranch kind of vibe is just something I never ever had, so it's just been really, it's been great, amazing."
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❤️gx @blakeshelton #Oklahoma #L.A.M.B. #burton
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Particularly when she'd wander about getting surprised by the local inhabitants. "Every day was like a new thing," she shared, "like a baby armadillo today or a baby wild hog."
And just maybe for the singer, celebrating her 51st birthday today, that next something new will involve the perfect white dress. Because Stefani didn't toooootally shut it down when Dua Lipa accidentally referenced Shelton as her legal spouse. Taking just a beat, the singer responded, "Um, well, he's not my husband. But that sounded cool when you said it."
So she's saying there's a chance? Pour us out a Smithworks cocktail because we'll drink to that.
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