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How ‘The Voice’ coaches got their start

Wanna be the next Gwen Stefani or Blake Shelton? Find out how the Season 10 judges started out.

For the past 5 years, “The Voice” has provided upcoming artists with the opportunity to be discovered, hone their talent and potentially get that big break they’ve all been looking for. But the real backbone of the show is the coaches that train them. Every season, four world-renown singers dedicate themselves to coaching selected artists reach new heights in their artistry. The coaches train and critique the artists on their vocal performances. They work one-on-one with each artist and even bring in hand-selected superstars to advise their teams.

Related: 7 things we can expect from Miley Cyrus on 'The Voice'

Although all four coaches have made it big in the music industry, they did not receive the same level professional advice and mentorship they are now giving. In fact, some had quite the uphill battle before breaking into the entertainment world. Here’s a look at how the Season 10 coaches of “The Voice” got their start in the music industry:

Related: Winners of 'The Voice': Where are they now?

BLAKE SHELTON (Season 1-10)

Blake Shelton was born in Ada, Oklahoma and had toured the bar circuit, gaining statewide recognition by the time he was 16. In high school he won the Denbo Diamond Award, the top award for young entertainers in Oklahoma. After high school, he moved to Nashville to pursue his singing career, where he started working for a music publishing company and, in 1997, he gained the support of Bobby Braddockwho helped him obtain a production contract with Sony Music.

In 2001, he signed to Giant Records and released his single, "I Wanna Talk About Me.”However, the label considered the song unsuitable for a leadoff single and the song was later recorded by Toby Keith, whose version hit No. 1 as a single. Instead, Giant decided to release "Austin" as Shelton's debut single. Shortly after the release, Giant Records was closed and Shelton was transferred to Warner Bros. Records. "Austin" went on to spend five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts.

Related: Top 10 performances to ever take place on 'The Voice'

ADAM LEVINE(Season 1-10)

Adam Levine was born in Los Angeles, California where he formed his first band, Kara's Flowers, while attending Brentwood School with fellow students Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden and Ryan Dusick. The band was discovered by Tommy Allen in 1977 while performing at a Malibu beach party. Later that year, the band released its first album, “The Fourth World,” as high school seniors. Kara's Flowers then released their single, "Soap Disco," which appeared on an episode of “Beverly Hills 90210.” However, the young band found success to be a bit tenuous and decided to break up.

After high school, Levine and Carmichael moved Long Island, New York to attend Five Towns College, a music and performing arts school. Living in New York exposed the pair to an entirely new music scene, including large influences of R&B and hip-hop. Levine later expressed that living in New York had a large impact on his musical point-of-view.

In 2000, Levine and Carmichael dropped out of Five Towns to return to LA and reunite with their former band members, adding a new guitarist James Valentine. The band changed its name to Maroon 5 and released their debut album, “Songs About Jane,” in 2002. After slowly climbing the charts, the album went platinum and Maroon 5 earned their first Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2004.

CHRISTINA AGUILERA (Season 1-3, 5, 8, 10)

Christina Aguilera was born in Staten Island, New York where she developed a deep love of music and was locally known as "the little girl with the big voice.” At an early age, Aguilera's big voice swept through a number of talent shows and local competitions, which caused spite from her schoolmates and even some parents. It got so bad that Aguilera's mother decided to home-school her. Despite the opposition, Aguilera continued to perform, and in 1990, she earned a spot on the national television program “Star Search.” The 9-year-old prodigy won America over with her mesmerizing cover of Etta James' "A Sunday Kind of Love," and placed second in the competition.

In 1993, Aguilera landed a spot as a Mouseketeer on “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” with fellow castmates Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell. The ambitious singer spent only two years on the program before moving to Japan with her mother, where she recorded her hit single "All I Wanna Do.” In 1998, Aguilera was asked to sing "Reflection" for the Walt Disney film “Mulan,” which peaked at No. 19 on the U.S.BillboardAdult Contemporary Chart.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS(Season 7-10)

Pharrell Williams was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he attended Princess Anne High School and always felt somewhat out of place until he met Chad Hugoat a summer band camp in seventh-grade. Williams played the keyboards and drums while Hugo played tenor saxophone. The pair began performing together and later included friends Shay Haleyand Mike Etheridge in their R&B group, the Neptunes. After performing in a school talent show, they were discovered by Teddy Riley, whose studio was right next to Princess Anne High School.

Upon graduation, the group signed with Riley, who asked them to contribute to "Rump Shaker" by Wreckx-N-Effect. Williams and Hugo later broke through as an acclaimed producing duo for rap artists such asJay-Z then branched out into pop music and worked with artists like Britney Spears and Usher.Williams also made vocal guest appearances on a few of the recorded albums. In 2003, he produced his first solo, "Frontin’." Williams, with the help of Hugo and Shae Haley, found more success with the rap-rock group N.E.R.D. (which stands for Nothing Ever Really Dies).

 

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