The Voice announced that country icon Reba McEntire will serve as the Mega Mentor for the upcoming 23rd season of the show when it returns on NBC on March 6. McEntire will be on hand to join new coaches Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan as well as returning chair turners Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, who is making his final spin on the series as the only original cast member after a 12-year run.
McEntire and the coaches will mentor the acts who make it through the Battle Rounds as the teams prepare for the Knockouts that begin on April 17. McEntire was a Battle Advisor to Shelton’s team during season one, which makes her return for Blake’s final curtain even more poignant.
A release announcing McEntire’s return also noted that the show will add some important changes to the format that will make the competition even more fierce this time around. Starting on March 27, the new “Playoff Pass” will let both artists in a battle advance, with one “Pass” winner snagging a big advantage when they skip the Knockout Rounds and automatically advance to the Playoffs.
Each coach will have one Playoff Pass and one steal during this round, with seven artists from each team advancing — six to compete in the Knockout rounds and one Pass artist. During the Knockouts, artists will be paired against each other and pick their own songs to perform individually while their competitors wait and watch from the sidelines. The coaches will then choose the winner, with the artist not selected available to return via a steal; each coach has only one steal during this round as five artists per team advance.
Finally, during the return of the playoff rounds beginning on May 1, the 20 remaining acts will face off as each coach has to pick two to advance to the live semifinals. This season’s live shows will kick off on May 15. The season 23 premiere of The Voice airs on NBC on March 6 at 8 p.m. ET.