The joy of interviewing Gwen Stefani is that you don't even have to glance at your questions. They sit, folded and lonely on the couch while she just talks. Candidly and freely, almost guilelessly, which is extraordinary given that Stefani has been in the public gaze for more than 20 years. Especially when you consider what she has faced personally over the past 18 months: a traumatic split—beset by cheating allegations—from her husband of 13 years, Gavin Rossdale; a new album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like; her first number one as a solo artist; and an unexpected romance with fellow Voice judge Blake Shelton. Stefani and Shelton, having performed the emotional duet "Go Ahead and Break My Heart" two nights earlier on the show ("We're number one on the country charts!" she trills delightedly) are the equivalent of America's prom king and queen. The national mood: You'd have to have a heart made of coal not to root for them. "It's like, what's there to hide?" Stefani says, sitting in a trailer outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art after her BAZAAR cover shoot. She has changed back into combat-style trousers and a T-shirt, filled with fashion-y holes, that reads, "everyone loves an Italian girl." Fearsome red studded Christian Louboutin stiletto boots—her casual arrival footwear—lie kicked over in a corner of the makeup room.
While Stefani, 46, is an open book, she will at times cut out some pages. "It's because I have children," she says, referring to her three boys with Rossdale: Kingston, 10, Zuma, seven, and Apollo, two. "As a famous person, you start to think,'I can't say all that because I'll embarrass them or hurt them in some way.' And especially now because they can see everything and hear everything." She adds with some pride, "But I've done nothing I'm ashamed of ..." before breaking into laughter. "Well, we all have a few things we're ashamed of.”
Meanwhile, back on set of The Voice with fellow judges Shelton, Adam Levine, and Pharrell Williams ("July 7," says Stefani, who clearly has a great memory for seminal dates), "There I was with my big secret, right? And that's when Blake was like,'Everybody, before we go out there, I want to let everyone know that by the time this airs, I will be divorced.'" Not only was Stefani shocked, she also felt "exposed somehow, you know? But it was like being handed this gift of a friend who was going through the exact same thing at the exact same time.”
As we know, the rest is history. "And then it was just like everything flipped," she says. "It went from horrible to, like, hopeful and, like, 'Wow, God, you just don't know what's gonna happen next.' " She stops herself, pivoting back to beautiful music. "I'm not here to talk about my personal life, but my record is my personal life, so!"
So the bulletproof blonde is going to skate onward."I'm at a certain time in my life where I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. Every day is art, you know? Some days are really bad, and some days are so good." And as for Stefani and Shelton, the king and queen of the prom,"it's crazy the support and love I've felt. Life is such a weird..."She lets out a little laugh. "I mean, I can't believe I'm number one on a country chart.