The Real Reason Why Alicia Keys Isn't Coaching 'The Voice' This Year

by Hannah Shapiro
Trae Patton/NBC

Alicia Keys took center stage on The Voice for two seasons, becoming a coach in Season 11 and winning the show Season 12. The Voice is first and foremost a show about singers. But, like many competition shows, the banter and competition between the coaches also takes a front row seat, which made Keys a standout part of the show. She also brought a special ease and magic to her coaching, often leaving contestants in awe of her. She won Season 12 with singer Chris Blue, proving herself a successful mentor. So, why isn't Alicia Keys returning to The Voice?

The reason for so much coach turnover on The Voice is more a commentary on the successful careers of the mentors than on the gig itself. The whole premise of the show revolves around singers with thriving careers mentoring up-and-coming talents. Coaching the show is a huge time demand, and, while rewarding, can probably be difficult for the big names who are juggling a lot of projects. The movement of coaches is familiar, and not limited to just Keys. For example, Miley Cyrus will be returning for Season 13, after taking time off and releasing new music. And, since Keys is first and foremost a singer/songwriter, her desire to return to her roots is hardly a surprise.

Keys spoke to ET in May of 2017 about her decision to step away from the show. Keys released her album Here in 2016 and is looking forward to writing and recording new music. She said to ET:

"I can't wait for you to hear new music, and so that's one of the reasons why I won't be able to come back next season. I love writing. It's just the most beautiful, exciting things, and every time I get better. That's the blessing and magic of writing."

Because The Voice is also a competition among the coaches, Keys' fellow coach Blake Shelton had a lot to say about her departure. Shelton is a popular coach on the show, having won the show five times. He won Season 2 with Jermaine Paul, Season 3 with Cassadee Pope, Season 4 with Danielle Bradbery, Season 7 with Craig Wayne Boyd, and Season 11 with Sundance Head. Keys was big competition for the popular coach, and Shelton predicts she will return. He spoke to ET about Keys's departure and had this to say:

"I've looked ahead, this is like those Harry Potter movies. Those characters that you think are gone, then they come back. Alicia… I've already looked ahead on the script, and they have her coming back."

According to her social media, Keys has been keeping busy traveling and performing since leaving The Voice. Keys performed at Rock In Rio, a musical festival in Brazil on Sept. 17, playing some of her biggest hits like "Empire State Of Mind." She's also been spending time with her other musical friends like Nicki Minaj, which she shared in an Instagram. In all her interviews she makes it clear: Much of her Voice break will be spent writing and recording new music.

And, honestly, some of the break may be just about taking a break. She's certainly earned one. On Aug. 8, she posted the below sweet video to Instagram, thanking her fans for their support of her career while she took in a beautiful sunrise.

Season 13 of The Voice premieres Monday, Sept. 25 on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. And, though Keys won't be there, Adam Levine, Shelton, and Cyrus are returning with new coach Jennifer Hudson, who rose to fame after competing on American Idol. She's been on the other side of singing reality competition, so she should have great insight to how the contestants feel.

So, while Keys will be missed on The Voice, hopefully she will return one day to her chair. And, in the meantime, Hudson will likely do a great job in her place.