Blake Shelton might be a veteran coach on The Voice now, but understanding how to mentor and encourage young artists isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s a learned skill, and Shelton says he owes his to country icon Trace Adkins.

The “Sangria” singer reveals he had a mentor in Adkins early on in his career, when he says he was even more ... colorful.

“Trace Adkins was that guy for me …. unfortunately, because he’s a grumpy, old bastard,” Shelton jokes to Fox News. “But he was always that guy for me who would set me down and say, ‘Listen,’ and he would get on to me about stuff. Especially because back in the day, I was way worse than I am now."

Though Shelton tends to be a little rough around the edges himself, he says the reason he actually listened to Adkins was because he had a bit of a healthy fear of the man.

“He was about the only guy I would listen to because I was intimidated by him,” he adds. “Looking back, I am so glad that he was around for me.”

The "Austin" singer's The Voice team has produced a number of notable up-and-comers over the years, including Danielle Bradbery, The Swon Brothers, Cassadee Pope and Meghan Linsey, and the artist says for many, though not every one, of his mentees, he continues to try to help cultivate their careers however he can.

“It’s not all of them. There are some people who have been on my teams over the years that I never see or talk to again,” he explains. “There are some people you have a connection with and some you don’t, but the ones I’ve had a connection with, I feel a responsibility to them — just on a friendship level. Since I am in a position to help them, I am damn sure going to at least try.”

Fans can catch Shelton on the ninth season of The Voice, premiering on NBC Sept. 21.

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