Blake Shelton, the Country Music Association.'s reigning Male Vocalist of the Year, has re-signed with Warner Music Nashville, Billboard.Biz has learned exclusively.
"I couldn't imagine going anywhere else, especially with the team they have in place at Warner Music Nashville under the leadership of John Esposito," says Shelton, whose current album, "Red River Blue," debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart in the July 30 issue and remained at the summit two weeks.
"The last two years have been the best of my career and I look forward to what lies ahead with this great team," he says, before adding jokingly, "My master plan has worked…they can't get rid of me now."
The news comes on the heels of Dwight Yoakam rejoining the label after a decade with other companies. "Knowing that Blake Shelton, who is simply at the top of his class, and Dwight Yoakam, one of the most respected singer/songwriters in the history of country music, want to call Warner Music Nashville their home, validates that the team we have in place is on the right track," said John Esposito, Warner Music Nashville's president. "Warner is dedicated to being a place where artists can be creative and can fearlessly try new things."
Shelton began his career on Giant Records, debuting in 2001 with the hit single "Austin," which logged five weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. When the label closed that year, the Oklahoma native was absorbed into the Warner Bros. Records roster.
Since then, he's placed 21 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, including nine No. 1 hits, among them "The Baby," "Some Beach," "Home," "She Wouldn't Be Gone" and "Honey Bee," which spent four weeks at No. 1 during the summer. His current single, a cover of Dave Barnes' "God Gave Me You," is at No. 8 this week.
After five studio albums, Shelton and Warner Music Nashville took a different approach, releasing the "Hillbilly Bone" EP in March 2010 instead of a new full-length album. The plan was to give consumers new music more quickly instead of waiting to put out a full album. At the time, Shelton told Billboard: "I can look at SoundScan and want to slit my wrist, not just for me, but for the entire industry. It's terrible. You can either try something new or you can go with what you already know isn't working. So I'm all about being a guinea pig."
The tactic succeeded, giving Shelton's career a shot in the arm. "Hillbilly Bone" peaked at No. 2 on Top Country Albums in March 2010 and the follow up EP, "All About Tonight," debuted at No. 1 in August 2010. "Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton," released in November 2010, the same month he took home his first CMA Awards, winning male vocalist and the vocal event honor with Trace Adkins for "Hillbilly Bone."
This year, Shelton is up for five CMA Awards - best album ("All About Tonight"), male vocalist, entertainer, single and music video for "Honey Bee." The 45th annual CMA Awards are slated for Nov. 9 in Nashville.