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Blake Shelton & That Rascal-y Reba

Blake Shelton photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Nashville.

When Blake Shelton won Male Vocalist of the Year at the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards, he was jubilant. But Blake was not the only emotional person in the room.

His fiancee, Miranda Lambert, was ecstatic. And Reba McEntire shed a few tears. And there’s good reason for that — her husband, Narvel Blackstock, signed Blake up to the Starstruck management company, and they have a strong connection.

“I’ve been with ‘em for what, four years now? Five years?” Blake says. “And it’s been a battle. Every day has been a grind, and it’s not been easy. When you been pushin’ on that wall, pushin’ — and that moment when it finally hits the ground, that’s kind of what it felt like [that] night. Even for Reba, Narvel and Brandon, you know, it’s awesome.”

Brandon is Brandon Blackstock, Narvel’s son and Reba’s stepson. He’s the guy who represents Blake day to day, and he’s also the guy who was responsible for luring Blake to Starstruck. That relationship goes back to 2005 or 2006 when Blake was opening for Rascal Flatts on tour. He was looking for a new manager, and Brandon happened to be the road manager for Flatts.

“The way it works on the Rascal Flatts tour,” Blake notes, “is they get out there and they’re runnin’ around crazy and they do their show — ‘Good night’ — and they have to pee by then. Well, there’s no time to go all the way to a bathroom, ‘cause they have an encore to do, so there’s milk jugs back there with the holes cut out of the top — and I don’t care if they get mad at me for this — but they gotta go. So they pee in these milk jugs.”

One of the rituals on the tour was that Blake would come out on the encore and join the band on the final song, so he was inevitably in the backstage area shortly after their milk-jug procedure was completed. And in that setting, Brandon somehow decided it was the perfect time to make a business proposition.

“Brandon Blackstock’s standin’ right there,” Blake recalls, “walks up to me, and it’s real loud, says, ‘Hey! I heard you’re lookin’ for a new manager! I want you to think about me!’ He was holding two milk jugs full of urine in both of his hands, and I remember goin’, ‘What an idiot.’ You know, ‘What are you talkin’ about?’”

Brandon didn’t take no for an answer, though. His dad wanted to bring him in to work at Starstruck, and Brandon knew he could make that happen if he brought an artist of Blake’s stature along with him. So he continued to badger Blake almost daily. And slowly, Blake started thinking it might work.

“I finally just decided,” Blake remembers, “that kind of passion — that’s what I need in my career is a guy like that and a guy with the power of Narvel Blackstock and the power of a Reba McEntire. And when I made the decision to do it, what I found out is yes they are a company, but they’re family, and when you’re brought into that, they treat you like family.”

And that explains the emotion that surrounded Blake’s victory at the CMAs.

“Reba was cryin’ and Narvel was cryin’ and I don’t know where Brandon was,” Blake laughed. “He doesn’t cry. He’s a bad ass.”

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