Blake Shelton Recalls “Pep Talk” From Billy Ray Cyrus Ahead Of His First CMA Awards Performance: “Those People Are Going To Make Fun Of You”

Blake Shelton Billy Ray Cyrus country music
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Nothin’ like a little friendly advice.

Blake Shelton made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, where they of course discussed the CMA Awards, which took place yesterday live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Jimmy asked Blake if he remembered his first time at the big show, to which Blake had a great response and story that involved none other than Billy Ray Cyrus and a, um… “pep talk,” of sorts.

Blake was having some radio success with his hit “Austin” at the time, and they invited him to do a little ad read and then sing a portion of the song.

It was Blake’s very first appearance on national television, and he says he was just “terrified”:

“The first CMA’s that I was on was 2001.

And I remember I’d had a song out that had done pretty good, good enough that they asked me to come do one of those commercial bumper moments.

And I got to sing like 20 second of the song… I was scared to death. I remember just being terrified, I had never really been on television before.”

While he was waiting side-stage, Billy Ray walked by as he had just finished presenting an award. He introduced himself to a “shocked,” very young Blake Shelton, and asked him how he was.

Blake was very honest, telling Billy ray he was “scared to death to walk out there,” probably hoping for some positive, uplifting words of encouragement in that moment.

And honestly, even though it was tough love, Billy taught him a very important lesson that day, telling Blake that no matter how good his performance was, “this is the music industry,” and people were going to “make fun of him” regardless.

Ain’t that the truth…

“And so I was standing there off to the side, and Billy Ray Cyrus had just presented an award. And he walked over and he introduced himself to me, which I was just in shock of that even, you know?

And he said, ‘You alright?’ And I go, ‘Man, I’m scared to death. I’m scared to death right now to walk out there.’ And he’s like, ‘What do you mean?’ And I go, ‘I’ve just never been on TV, and I gotta sing.’

And he goes, ‘I’ll tell you man, listen. Even if you do great, this is the music industry, most of those people are gonna roll their eyes and make fun of you anyway, man. It’s like, this is the music industry. You need to toughen up a little bit, man. People make fun of you.’

And I remember, that was his pep talk to me. He probably doesn’t remember that, but I’m telling you right now as a young 23-year old kid or whatever I was, i was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re right.'”

Yeah, not exactly the most encourage thing to tell a young performer who’s about to take the stage on national TV for the first time, but obviously, it resonated, because Blake still remembers it clear as day over 20 years later.

You can watch Blake tell the story himself below.

And because it only feels right to cue this one up now…


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock