Trae Patton/NBC

This article originally appeared on People

 When Blake Shelton first met RaeLynn on season two of NBC’s hit singing competition show The Voice, the country singer was just 17 years old. Now, she’s all grown up (with a husband!) and getting ready to release her debut album.

“There’s times I wanted to give up personally as an artist,” RaeLynn, 22, told PEOPLE exclusively during her recent return to the set. “I’m like, ‘I’m tired, I’m sick of writing every day,’ and there were times Blake was like, ‘Rae, you were meant for this. We’re gonna figure it out.’ You have to have people around you like that.”

Over the last five years, the duo have become close friends (Shelton even attended her wedding earlier this year with Gwen Stefani) and RaeLynn is opening for Shelton, 40, on his Doing It to Country Songs tour next year.

“I think the world of him,” says RaeLynn. “I love him to death. He’s like my dad or brother. He still looks at me like I’m 15 or 16 years old.”

As for Shelton, the Voice mentor will “never forget when RaeLynn auditioned,” he told PEOPLE. “I turned around and saw her face, and it was like I was looking at somebody I’ve known my whole life somehow. Instantly it was like, I know her! I know her somehow!”

Though she didn’t win her season of the show, “we’ve been close literally ever since then,” adds Shelton.

Mingling backstage, RaeLynn also threw coach Adam Levine for a loop with how grown up she’s become.

“You’re not married. You’re going to be 15 and single for the rest of your life,” joked the Maroon 5 frontman. “When you left the show, you were a baby! You’re in a time warp for me. You actually look younger now.”

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