Reba McEntire is opening up about losing one of her team members on season 24 of The Voice.
The first-time coach spoke with ET’s Cassie DiLaura on the red carpet ahead of the singing competition’s first live show of the season on Monday, where she shared her thoughts on country singer Tom Nitti departing the show for “personal reasons” last week, ahead of the Playoff Rounds.
“We’ve been emailing back and forth and all of our hearts went out to him ’cause he couldn’t finish the competition,” she said. “He is so strong, so good. He’s gonna be watching and cheering all of us on, but our hearts are with him.”
Last week, after it was revealed that Nitti had left the competition, the singer opened up about his decision. He shared an Instagram reel full of pictures from his time on the show — as well as photos of his kids — and a heartfelt message promising that he’s “alright and still standing” and hinting that he left the show to spend more time with his family.
“As much as it absolutely stings to say, I had to make probably one of the hardest yet easiest decisions ever and ultimately at the end of the day, my kids will always come first and if I had to make the same decision again I’d do it over and over,” he wrote in part.
“This isn’t the end of me and I’ll do what I do best for everyone to see which is keep my head down and move forward playing music and raising/creating new memories with a family I will continue to grow,” he concluded. “I never believed in the whole, things happen for a reason statement but in this case I think God has it all figured out. He knows I don’t break easily. For everyone asking, I’m alright and still standing. Thank you so much and as always, I’m super pumped to keep on keepin’ on with music, my kids Rayleigh and Brently my whole family to include my smokin’ girlfriend that keeps my head held high… Im more than ready to continue to live life now happier than ever before.”
While she was sad not to continue with Tom, Reba told ET that she thinks her remaining team members — Ruby Leigh, Jordan Rainer and Jacquie Roar — all have a good shot at taking home the season 24 title.
“I really couldn’t tell you [who might win],” she admitted. “They’re all three different and they are all three very, very strong. I wouldn’t be shocked by any one of my three of my team winning.”
The country music legend admits that she was a bit intimidated by the pressures of the show on her first season, but has since learned some tricks to managing the competition.
“The main thing that I have learned is take it one minute at a time,” she shared. “It is a lot to take in for the first time being a coach.”
However, when asked who might be taking over the votes left behind by departed coach Blake Shelton, Reba wasn’t shy in naming herself due to their country connection — even over Blake’s wife, Gwen Stefani!
“I’m just gonna go for it,” she teased. “Because it’s gonna be split if you don’t, so I think it would just be best if I get all of them.”
The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. PT/ET and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.