Blake Shelton shocked fans of The Voice when he announced that he's leaving the show after Season 23, but his departure is by no means a rush decision — in fact, he explains in a new sit-down on NBC's Today, it's an idea that started brewing nearly three years ago.

"I think I was close to calling it a day right when COVID hit," Shelton admits in a sit-down with his fellow coaches for this season — Kelly Clarkson, Niall Horan and Chance the Rapper — in conversation with longtime show host Carson Daly.

But with the onset of the pandemic, he changed his mind.

"Because of COVID, I didn't wanna walk away from the show and leave everybody in a bind. I mean, this show changed my life — I'll stay here until the world kinda gets back to normal again," Shelton says, taking the conversation back to his thought process back in 2020.

After all, leaving is a big deal: Shelton is the only coach who's been on The Voice for all 23 seasons. When he joined the cast, he was already a country star, but being a coach on The Voice undoubtedly raised his profile to a global level. As the show's star rose, so did Shelton's, and vice versa — The Voice has been associated with his face, signature banter and coaching style ever since its earliest iterations.

Even more important than that, though, is the impact that The Voice has had on Shelton's personal life. "I mean, I met my wife, on this show," he points out. Shelton married pop superstar Gwen Stefani — whom he met when they were coaches on the same season — in 2020.

"It's changed my life in every way it possibly can, from a personal standpoint," the singer says.

Season 23 of The Voice kicks off on Monday, March 6 at 8PM ET and Tuesday, March 7 at 9PM ET on NBC. Episodes will be available to watch on Peacock the day after they air.

Famous Singers from The Voice, Then + Now

Ten years (and counting) made a huge difference for many of the most popular singers and stars of The VoiceBlake Shelton looks noticeably different, but so do some of country music's most memorable performers.

Winners like Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery wore baby faces when they auditioned during their respective seasons. The same can be said for Morgan Wallen, a forgotten castmember from the show who's transformed more than anyone else on this list of The Voice stars then and now.