Here’s What Happened the Time I Sang “Jolene” For Blake Shelton


I’m finally sharing this story because Hoda Kotb tried out for “The Voice” was kind of terrible.

Last summer, before CMA Fest officially kicked off in Nashville, I had the chance to attend a private party with Blake Shelton. When walking into the party, I thought it was an event for his SmithWorks Vodka and I had no idea there would be karaoke or a chance to perform for Blake.

There couldn’t have been more than 35 or 40 people in the bar, so I opted to go ahead and sign-up to sing a song. Unfortunately, they only had 25 songs to choose from and half of them were Blake’s own songs, so I landed on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” I also volunteered to go first, but got told Hoda Kotb from “Today,” would be first and she was going to be singing Blake’s “Boys ‘Round Here.”

Hoda was fine, but as a karaoke enthusiast I really thought I could best her performance. I did not factor her overall belovedness or fame into the karaoke equation.

While I’m a karaoke enthusiast, I’m not great at any song you throw at me and my selection of “Jolene” was a poor one. From the get-go, I knew it was bad, so I told Blake I wanted him to turn his chair around like he was on “The Voice.” I thought this would get a few laughs, but I was still trying to sing “Jolene” and hit notes about six octaves higher than my register, so the joke didn’t land well. Also, the chair Blake was sitting in was huge and I think someone had to help him turn it around.

For the first time in my life I was bombing a karaoke performance and I was doing it in front of Blake Shelton. At one point, he kind of cussed at me and asked me what I was doing. He was joking, but he was serious. What was I doing, anyway? Just singing a country music classic in front of a guy with 25 No. 1 singles.

You have to endure crappy singers on “American Idol,” but not on “The Voice,” he didn’t sign up for this.

Finally, the song was over and my friend filming the experience yelled, “I’m sorry” at everyone. Blake did laugh a few times and I felt like he was laughing with me and not at me, but he didn’t turn his chair around.

The moral of the story? If you ever get the chance to sing for Blake Shelton– do it. Even if you have to follow Hoda.

Also, I’d like to apologize to Dolly Parton.