Blake Shelton’s Summer Tour Is ‘Everything I Ever Worked For’

'The first time I tried to play a chord, this was the dream I had,' Shelton says of summer tour.

Blake Shelton couldn’t make it to Wednesday night’s CMT Music Awards in Nashville, which was a shame, considering his “Sure Be Cool If You Did” clip won Male Video of the Year.

Luckily, his wife Miranda Lambert — who won two awards of her own — was there to accept on his behalf, telling the star-packed audience inside the Bridgestone Arena that Shelton had “tried really hard to get here, but he’s filming in L.A. tonight,” before joking “Honey, I’m drinking for two tonight!”

Shelton’s absence wasn’t all that shocking, considering his commitments to NBC’s smash hit “The Voice.” But, as he told MTV News earlier in the week, this summer he’ll turn his attention away from the show … to focus on a headlining tour — it kicks off July 19 in Virginia Beach — and making memories that will last a lifetime.

“Looking back, some of my favorite memories of growing up were summertime memories; Fourth of July, my birthday is June 18, and those were some of my most favorite times, and I want to do that again,” he said. “I want to look back on this summer and think of it like those times, and it’s already set up to be that. I’m going out on my first-ever headlining amphitheater tour, and I’m never going to forget it.

“It’s everything I ever worked for, from the first time I tried to play a chord on the guitar, this was the dream I had, this was the image that was in my mind, of stepping out on one of those big summertime amphitheater stages, and looking out and seeing a bunch of people ready to have a good time,” he continued. “And that’s what ‘Iconic Summer’ is; it’s memories, it’s things you won’t ever forget.”

“Iconic Summer” also happens to be the name of the partnership Shelton entered into with Pepsi, which helps celebrate everything great about the summer, and will also help raise funds for a host of charities, including one very close to his heart : Healing in the Heartland, which aids victims of the tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma last month. Shelton organized a benefit concert that raised $6 million dollars for the recovery effort, and this summer, he hopes to raise even more.

“One of the reasons we reacted so quickly with the benefit concert we did last week was because there’s always something going on somewhere in the world that will distract people’s attention, and rightfully so. If there’s another disaster somewhere, people’s hearts go out to that … so we wanted to react quickly to the Oklahoma tornado disaster,” he said. “But I love what Pepsi’s doing, asking folks to submit a photo of whatever moment made their summer iconic. You send that picture in and for every photo you submit, they’re going to give a dollar to one of five charities, and one of them is Healing the Heartland. And, man, that sounded so good to me. It’s a really incredible thing that’ll continue to give to those people throughout the summer, and continue to make a difference and help.”