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Blake Shelton “Country Strong”

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Blake Shelton was born on June 18, 1976, in Ada, Okla. He wrote songs as a teenager and honed his performing style as he played honky-tonk bars and became a regular on a local country music show.

At 17, Shelton met songwriter Mae Boren Axton (“Heartbreak Hotel”). She had returned to her Oklahoma roots for a tribute show honoring her in Ada. Shelton was part of the entertainment lineup and Axton told him to move to Nashville if he wanted a successful country music singing career. Two weeks out of high school in 1994, he packed his guitar and headed there.

In 1997, he was co-writing with a friend who tipped off songwriter/producer Bobby Braddock, who co-wrote the standards “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Time Marches On,” among others. Braddock ultimately served as the producer for Shelton’s self-titled debut on Warner Bros. Nashville. His debut single, “Austin,” stayed at No. 1 on Billboard’s singles chart for five weeks, tying Billy Ray Cyrus’ record for a debut single. Shelton also reached No. 1 for three weeks with “The Baby” in 2003. He spent most of the year on the road with Toby Keith and married his high school sweetheart. They divorced in 2006.