11 Years Ago: ‘The Voice’ Premieres
Eleven years ago, on April 26, 2011, a brand-new TV singing competition, The Voice, premiered on NBC. A decade later, the show remains popular and mostly recently wrapped its 21th season in Dec. 2021.
The Voice was adapted for American television audiences from The Voice of Holland, a Dutch show that premiered in 2010. The show's premise — to audition relatively unknown artists, who would then compete against each other to remain in the competition through celebrity coaches' decisions and viewers' votes — was familiar to American audiences by that time, as American Idol had been on the air on Fox since 2002.
However, The Voice offered a twist: In their initial auditions, contestants performed to the backs of the coaches' chairs, which ensured that the focus was on each singer's voice alone.
Through these blind auditions, The Voice's four coaches — in the first season, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton — selected contestants to join their teams, often needing to tout their qualifications to the show's hopefuls to convince them. Contestants then prepared for "Battle Rounds," during which they'd compete against a teammate to stay in the competition; since Season 1, each team has received help from a celebrity guest advisor during this round.
Throughout the years, additional rounds — Knockouts, Live Cross Battles and others — have been introduced to keep the eliminations of The Voice contestants fresh. During some seasons, eliminated contestants have received chances to re-enter the competition, too. Each The Voice season then concludes with several weeks of live performances, with contestants cut out of the running until a winner is crowned.
Each The Voice season's winner has received a cash prize and a record deal, first with Universal Republic Records (Seasons 1-2) and then with Universal Music Group (Season 3 onward). Javier Colon, a member of Team Adam, won Season 1.
Country fans are familiar with several former The Voice winners — Cassadee Pope won Season 3 and Danielle Bradbery won Season 4, for example — but also with some artists who didn't make it past auditions. Maren Morris, for one, was rejected for both The Voice and American Idol.
Ten years later, Shelton is The Voice's only remaining original coach. Levine, with whom Shelton formed an on- and offscreen bromance and friendly rivalry, departed after Season 16, while Aguilera and Green both left after Season 3, though they both returned for Season 5 and Aguilera also coached in Seasons 8 and 10.
Coaches have cycled in and out of The Voice's familiar red chairs — Shelton met his fiancee, No Doubt singer and solo artist Gwen Stefani, while she was a coach on the show — but Kelly Clarkson and John Legend have filled coaches' seats since Season 14 and Season 16, respectively. Through Season 21, Shelton has coached eight The Voice contestants to victory.
WATCH: Has The Voice Changed Blake Shelton?
See The Voice Stars, Then and Now: