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Gwen - New York Times [03.10.2016]

After a few weeks in the studio, Ms. Stefani returned to her other job on “The Voice,” burdened with knowing her marital issues had not yet become public. “I’m not a secret girl,” she explained. “I tell everybody when my period is coming.”

But she soon learned that Mr. Shelton, whom she refers to as “one of my co-workers,” was also in the throes of a personal crisis. He “had been going through literally the exact same thing in literally the exact same time frame,” she said. Her friendship with him blossomed.

Her collaborators noticed a change instantly. “We had anger, we had sadness, we had flirtation, we had sexy, and now we’re madly in love,” Mr. Tranter said. Ms. Stefani described the shift with one of her frequently used terms — “crazy!” — and added, “Never in my wildest, craziest dreams would I ever have seen this coming.”


Ms. Stefani, who sometimes reminds herself “Wow, I did do that! I wrote those songs!” to boost her own confidence, said singing about being happy is “so fresh” to her. “I needed something new to happen. And not just in my career, in my life. Something had to change.

“I’m not going to say I’m not still picking up the pieces and every day isn’t a challenge,” she said. “I’m still in shock. But it’s an awesome time.”

Gwen - Vanity Fair [04.xx.2016]

You’re in love now?

Yeah, for sure. I don’t really want to go into that relationship, and God knows what’s going to happen. But I feel like I’m in an amazing songwriting place; instead of being closed off, I’m thinking about positivity and how I can do something creative. I’m just doing what I want to do. It’s so incredible to be in that zone. I’m always looking for the next song, and now I don’t have to be insecure or write about heartache.

 

Gwen - S/ Magazine [Summer 2016]

But the last several months have also resulted in some of her happiest moments, too: while she won’t talk about it specifically, Stefani and her The Voice co-star/country crooner Blake Shelton – (who also recently parted with former wife Miranda Lambert) – have been dating at least since last fall and aren’t shy about revealing their mutual affection for each other. It’s clear that many of the songs on the record, which dropped in March, are about her newfound beau. Just witness the palpable chemistry between the duo as they united to sing “Go Ahead and Break My Heart” on the reality music show in early May. “Even though things were horrible, they went from horrible to, like, euphoric over an eight-month period – the music just captures that.”

Stefani admits that the highs and lows of her personal life over the last year, openly documented on the album, may be why it seems the pop star has found a new sound; not since No Doubt’s ‘Tragic Kingdom’ have we seen her so vulnerable and honest. The chameleonic performer has dabbled in everything from pop, electronic, soul, ska and hip hop throughout her career as a solo act and as lead singer of the band No Doubt. “There’s two parts to the record: the beginning of the writing, and me trying to save myself, when I was angry and dealing with really crazy stuff,” she says. “Then, I started healing and the music started getting kind of hopeful and joyful. I’ve never been in a place to write songs like that before, because I’ve never felt good.”

Gwen - Harper's Bazaar [08.xx.2016]

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.

Gwen - Cosmopolitan Magazine [09.xx.2016]

By now everyone knows the Gwen Stefani story. Or at least they think they do. The gist: SoCal ska-punk girl turns global superstar, first as the lead singer of No Doubt and then as a hit-churning solo artist with a side of lauded fashion (L.A.M.B.) and fragrance (Harajuku Lovers) lines. She spent 13 years married to Gavin Rossdale, the Bush front man with whom she has three boys: Kingston, Zuma, and Apollo. The couple split last August and now share joint custody of the kids. Three months later, Gwen went public with her relationship with Blake Shelton, her costar on NBC’s The Voice and former husband of singer Miranda Lambert. The country megastars divorced in July 2015.

The exact time line of who, what, when, and how the two Camelot couples of music came undone is murky. Sleuths can mine Gwen’s latest album This Is What the Truth Feels Like and Blake’s If I’m Honest (we sense a theme) for tells of what went down. Hear especially their duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” which Gwen cowrote with Blake for his album. The rumor is that Gavin cheated with the nanny (heard that one before). But whatever, that was then. This is Gwen. On the set of her Cosmo cover shoot, the singer—who was raised Roman Catholic—is hyper-spiritualized, giving it up to the power of God, prayer, and blessings at every turn. “It’s a journey I’ve been on,” she says of her faith. “I got lost for a while, but I found my way back. So many crazy miracles have happened around me, I don’t feel that I can be responsible for that.” She’s also tremendously happy. A woman transformed not by her usual OTT hair and makeup but by the wonder of the ups and downs and ups of her 46 years. “If you look at all the records I wrote, there were so many disclaimers,” she says. “Even a love song, there would be one line that was like, By the way motherfucker! It’s so boring and not who I am. I’m positive. I’m full of love. I’m full of hope.” For how Gwen’s gone from “Don’t Speak” to speaking her truth, read on.

COSMO: You’ve had quite a year!

GWEN: It’s been crazy. Blake and I had our song [“Go Ahead and Break My Heart”] come out yesterday, and we were sitting there like, you couldn’t write this! So bizarre.

Did you know him at all before you went on The Voice?

No. I didn’t know anything about who he was or even the show really when I got the call. I remember one of my nannies was hot on him and her telling me, “Oh, yeah, that cowboy guy….”

You guys looked pretty tight during your second season on the show.

We were laughing our heads off when we saw the blind auditions. I love NBC, but they for sure edited stuff to look like we were flirting. They chose to run with that story before anything was even real. I hardly knew him. But it was like it was in the air—happening before it happened.

And then it happened for real….

The story is so crazy. I performed at the Grammys [in February 2015]. I came home, and the next day, I found out what everybody knows….

About Gavin? No one knows the specifics though.

Nobody except for my parents, the people involved, and whoever they told. Nobody would believe it if I could really say what happened. I went through months and months of torture. I knew I was going to do The Voice. I was like, Oh my god, I’m going to get fired if I get a divorce, because it was not who I am to have that happen to me. I had this big secret.

Did you know something was going on?

There’s no need to ever answer that. All you have to do is listen to every single song I’ve ever written and it’s all there. It’s an ongoing theme that I’ve had for a long time.

What made you decide to come clean?

When we went back to start filming The Voice, Blake was like, “I want everyone to know that by the time this comes out, I’m going to be divorced.” This was a Tuesday—he had found out on Saturday about his whole thing.

Which was?

Well, we had the exact same stories happening at exactly the same time. I was just looking down at him in shock that he wasn’t scared to say it because I didn’t know what was going to happen with me at that point. I was trying to work it out.


There was a time when I was desperate to write. You have a long career, and you don’t want it to end. You start to become competitive with what you’ve done before and competitive with things people have done after you that are like you. So many times I’ve gone into the studio and people are excited about me being there yet don’t have the confidence that I can do anything anymore. I had been praying thatI would find something. For this album, I had the right team. Once the songs started coming through me, I felt like I was chosen. God was in that room. I sound like a crazy born-again, but this record was a miracle. When I wrote “Used to Love You,” that was a huge turning point.

How did the subject of that song feel about it?

I don’t know. I didn’t talk to him about it. But everything switched at that point, because I started falling in love, which was completely unexpected. I still can’t believe it.

Now you have a song with Blake, which you never did with Gavin.

All it is is just being real. It happened really early on. We were both having trust issues, as you would if you were us. It was like, I have so many problems. How can I now be getting into another potentially huge problem? What am I doing? Blake wrote the song and sent it to me. He was like, “Help me finish it.” I wrote a verse and sent it to him, but he was gone because he doesn’t live in L.A. He didn’t have Wi-Fi, so he wasn’t answering me back! As soon as he came back to town, he brought his guitar over. We were like, “We wrote a song together! This is crazy!”

You’ve talked a lot about always wanting to have babies.

I always wanted to have four. My mom had four, and I wanted to be my mom. But it just never happened.

Well, it’s not over—

No, no, it’s over!

Gwen - People Magazine [10.24.2016]

Gearing up to celebrate turning 47 earlier this month, Gwen Stefani couldn’t help but reflect on how much her life has changed since her last birthday. “I look back at it and go, ‘That was such a rich, full year,’” muses the star. “It’s just crazy how much happened. I feel like I’ve had an awakening and I don’t want it to stop.”

The last 12 months have indeed been transformative for Stefani, who bounced back after ending her 19-year relationship with rocker Gavin Rossdale by releasing a No. 1 album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, embarking on a sold-out tour and finding love again with her costar on The Voice, Blake Shelton. “I feel like I’m in the next phase,” she says of moving on from her heartbreak. “Even though that year was challenging, it was also one of my favorite things that ever happened to me.” While Stefani leaned on loved ones, including Shelton - “I’m so blessed. This year has been so many beautiful memories,” she says of their upcoming one-year anniversary - after her divorce, she also found solace in her faith. “I’ve been really working hard on my spiritual exercising, and when you do that, I think you find suddenly you’re seeing in color,” says Stefani, who is executive producing Nickelodeon’s new kids’ show Kuu Kuu Harajuku (airing Saturdays at 9 a.m.). “Everything has more meaning and more feeling and more purpose. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

While much of her life has changed, one aspect has remained constant: her dedication to her sons (with Rossdale) Kingston, 10, Zuma, 8, and Apollo, 2, who accompanied her on tour this summer. “Kingston was protective and Zuma had a headset on and a little flashlight and wanted to be part of the crew,” says Stefani. “He walked me on and off the stage every single night. It was adorable.” Shelton also often visited Stefani on tour, and the duo spent some downtime between stops at the country singer’s ranch in Tishomingo, Okla. “One day off on tour, we were in Texas and all decided to just drive our buses to the ranch. We just had a really fun day off being in the country,” she says. “Growing up in Anaheim, my version of the country was the beach or the local park. There wasn’t a lot of that kind of experience, so it’s been really fun. 

 

SIDEBAR:

“I want to do it as many times as we can,” says Stefani of surprising Shelton’s fans onstage with their hit duet 'Go Ahead and Break My Heart.' “I’m in a completely different world, and these aren’t my people, yet they’re so warm.”

Gwen - Glamour Magazine [12.xx.2016]

Glamour: Zooming out, when you take stock of the past year, how do you place it within the course of your life?

GS: Mind-blowing. I don’t understand my journey. It’s so crazy. But one thing I learned is, that’s what life is. We all have to go through hard times. Tragedies. Those are given to us to see what we’re going to do with them. How can we give back? How can we improve when we have these challenges?

Glamour: In reading what you’ve said about your divorce, one thing in particular struck me: You used the word embarrassed a lot. Why did shame enter into the equation for you?

GS: I don’t think you’ll talk to one person who didn’t make it in a marriage who’s not gonna feel that way. The intention of being married is the vow, right? You want to put everything into it to make it a success. And all I had to look at was the huge success of my parents: They just had their fiftieth anniversary. I had to work really hard at marriage, all the time, like everybody, but ours was extra hard, when you add that we’re from different countries, both of us being in music, and celebrity. [Marriage] was the one thing I didn’t want to fail at. People can say whatever they want to about me…and I don’t get too affected. But I didn’t want them to think I was a failure. There’s nothing weird about how I felt.

Glamour: You’ve referred to that period as several months of “hell” and “torture.”

GS: [Laughs and nods.] But you know what? I’m in a different place now, [and] that is the past for me. I’m in such a new place. It’s all about the future for me. Not really just the future—but the moment right now. Like, I’m Woman of the Year, right here on this couch!

Glamour: Hell yeah! On the theme of living in the moment, you’ve said that the process of writing the new album saved your life. How did it save you?

GS: It released me from that feeling of hopelessness. When I was in the studio for This Is What the Truth Feels Like, it was like, I need to be here right now. This is the only place I feel good. It doesn’t matter what comes out of this, as far as my career—this isn’t about a hit. It’s about saving my life. And it was interesting, because I know you’re going to ask me about Blake, but finding somebody who was going through the exact same experience? [Shelton divorced country singer Miranda Lambert at about the same time.] That was an inspiration. He was a friend to me when I needed a friend. An unexpected gift. And that became an inspiration in the songwriting.

Glamour: From the outside, your relationship seems like an ­opposites-attract situation. You’re pop; he’s country. You have a fashion empire; he has a ranch in Oklahoma. It’s like a rom-com premise.

GS: It’s definitely two different cultures. But there are many similarities, in things that we love and our ­morals. But it’s really fun when you can learn about so many new things and share those differences.

Glamour: For instance?

GS: I’ve learned a lot about country music from him.… But my first concert ever was [folk/country singer] Emmylou Harris. My parents took me out of Girl Scouts to go to that show.

Blake - Billboard [07.28.2016]

"If you listen closely enough to If I'm Honest," says Shelton, "you can learn some facts of my divorce. Maybe not specifics, but you can get a general idea about it. It is my divorce record, but maybe even more than that, it's my happy, falling-in-love record too." Emotionally, it's Shelton's richest album. The divorce (his second) has given him more feeling and depth. It's almost enough to disrupt his self-described reputation as a stupid redneck.

"Can we do this interview lying down, like therapy?" Shelton asks, ­slumping on a sofa at Starstruck Entertainment, a white-gloss, shockingly modern three-story palace in the heart of Music Row in Nashville. He's sipping from a big plastic cup of at least 12 ounces of vodka and diet soda -- a boozy Slurpee.

Shelton sequenced If I'm Honest in a way that ­simulates a "very specific time frame" in his life. It opens with "Straight Out of Cold Beer," a backwoods party song that represents his carefree mind-set at the start of 2015. Then, he says, "the bottom drops out" of the album as it proceeds into the spring. "That's when it became painfully obvious that it wasn't going to work out in my ­marriage," he says. The second song, "She's Got a Way With Words," ­humorously but bitterly recalls a lover who cheated and lied. Shelton didn't write it, but if you want to assume it describes some of the facts of his divorce, he won't stop you. Then the album "stays in that lull for a while -- that sad, dark place." A few funny songs balance out the album, including the winking double-entendre "Doing It to Country Songs." Shelton always has done those songs well, but more impressively, he sings his ass off on the heartache ballads.

"When we recorded the vocals for some of these songs, I was only six months removed from when all the crap went down," says Shelton. "When you have a broken heart -- at least, when I do -- you got to get it out of your system. You want people to sympathize with you. I was at rock bottom, in the middle of hell." For a while, Shelton stayed with Adam Levine. "As close as we have been, we got even closer."

When The Voice began to shoot ­season nine in the spring, he decided to tell ­everyone at the show. Though he and Lambert hadn't announced their divorce, he knew it would be final by the time the blind auditions were broadcast in September, and he didn't want his ­producers and fellow judges to refer to Lambert as "Blake's wife."

Shelton and Stefani had met two years prior, when she joined The Voice as a coach in season seven. But she recently had given birth to her son Apollo, and Shelton "never really got to know her, other than small talk." When Stefani didn't return for season eight, Shelton assumed he would never see her again. So the way she reacted to his news was surprising and memorable. "I won't forget that day," he says. "I looked over at Gwen -- who I didn't really know -- and she had these huge tears in her eyes. I thought, 'Wow, she feels super bad for me!' "

It wasn't only empathy. Though she, too, hadn't announced it, Stefani was in the process of separating from her husband, Bush singer Gavin Rossdale, after 20 years together and three kids. Later that day, she asked to talk with Shelton, alone.

"I thought it was going to be another one of those things-are-going-to-be-OK talks," he recalls. "She didn't tell me much, because we didn't know each other at the time, but she said, 'I'm going through something very similar to what you're going through. I understand. And I hate it.' That's kind of how our friendship and bond started, that day. It went from that, to checking in on each other once a week through email -- 'This shit happened to me, what happened to you?' -- to maybe three times a week, then every day, to 'Hey, here's my phone number if you ever want to text.' Next thing I know, I wake up and she's all I care about, and I'm ­wondering if she feels the same about me."

"Gwen saved my life. Who else on earth could understand going through a high-profile divorce from another musician? You can't even imagine the similarities in our divorces."

After lingering in misery for a while, If I'm Honest starts to lift and turn, most ­notably with "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," an unlikely duet between Shelton and Stefani. Shelton, who isn't prolific, began to write about his new relationship to woo Stefani. He sent the incomplete song to her as a voice memo and invited her to help write it; she twisted it in a ­different direction, from his ­tentative ­optimism to something more blunt ("Thought I was using you just to get me through") and scarred. "She wrote a verse that was brutally honest and didn't really go with my verse. I was writing about her, and she made it about us. I was so taken aback by it. F--, she's awesome." They debuted the song, a week before Shelton's album release, live on The Voice while "making bedroom eyes at each other," as one newspaper described it.

As Shelton has acknowledged, the couple "could not be, on paper, any more different" -- a country singer who plants corn on his Oklahoma farm and bow-hunts white-tailed deer, and a glam-packed California vegan who started her career in a ska band and has her own fashion empire. She's Vogue, he's Field & Stream; he's a tractor, she's a Porsche.

A few months ago, Shelton was in his truck, driving to pick up Stefani at an airport in Oklahoma, when "It's My Life" came on the radio. (He also rents a home in Los Angeles, where she lives.) "I thought, 'Man, that sounds like Gwen.' And sure enough, the DJ said it was No Doubt. I was like, 'What the f--?' I didn't know that was her song. I'm still learning, I guess." While she visited him, the couple ate at a Dairy Queen and shopped at a Dollar General in Tishomingo, a short drive south of Ada, where Shelton grew up. Her very presence in those Middle American ­institutions made national news.

Blake - Billboard Country Update [10.24.2016]

In the middle of a knock-down, drag-out presidential campaign, Barack Obama held the final state dinner of his administration at the White House on Oct. 18, and who should appear? Blake Shelton.

He was, of course, the guest of Gwen Stefani, the night’s scheduled entertainment, and before it was all through, Shelton ended up onstage with her, performing “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.”

“That was a pretty neat deal,” says Shelton. “Luckily, I’ve got a girlfriend that’s cool enough to get invited to those things, and I just tag along with her.”

It’s one of numerous occasions when Shelton or Shefani brought the other onstage in the last year. They have performed that duet during her shows in Los Angeles, Dallas and Virginia Beach, Va., and at his shows in Oklahoma City; Peoria, Ill.; and - on his 40th birthday - at the Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo.

So when Shelton’s new single, “A Guy With a Girl,” pops up on the radio, it’s easy to associate the storyline - in which a man goes unnoticed next to his female companion - with their relationship. Shelton pretty much expects that response, too.

“‘A Guy With a Girl’ is my life right now,” says Shelton, who sees his life reflected in the first-verse references to tractors, concert stages and hanging with his buds. “Out on the farm or touring, [I’m] that guy, and then at the end of the day, when it’s time to have a life and go to a party or something, I become the guy that’s with Gwen. It’s pretty cool.”


Thus, “A Guy With a Girl” was in his possession as he split with Lambert and the new relationship with Stefani unfolded. As he recorded a new album, If I’m Honest, Shelton decided to build it around the transitions in his life, and “A Guy With a Girl” rose in stature. 

“We were trying to wrap up the album at the beginning of the year, and all of a sudden, this song is a true story for me,” he says.

Shelton and producer Scott Hendricks recorded the instrumental tracks in Nashville, adhering closely to the original demo while adding a little more motion to the background parts with layers of guitars and an active bassline… Shelton sang his final parts in the evening after working on The Voice during the day in Los Angeles, using a closet in his Hollywood Hills home as a glorified vocal booth. 

“He comes home, and we just sing until he’s tired,” says Hendricks.

Stefani sat in as an observer for many of those vocal sessions, including the work on “A Guy With a Girl.”

“She loved the song, and she was really interested because it’s such a different way to make a record than how they make ‘em in the pop world,” notes Shelton. “So she didn’t miss much of the vocals that I ddi for the album.”

“When Gwen’s sitting there beside me, he tends to want to sing better,” adds Hendricks. “We we may just have to [always] have her sit there when he’s singing." 


Warner Music Nashville released “A Guy With a Girl” to radio via PlayMPE on Sept. 26, and it’s already at No. 19 in its fourth week on Country Airplay, underscoring the positives Shelton feels as as the guy with Gwen Stefani.

“Everywhere we go, whether it’s my hometown in Tishomingo [Okla.] or some fancy party in Hollywood, when she comes around, it’s like people just stop,” he says. “And I don’t blame ‘em.”