by Cyril Josh Barker
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Jermaine Paul

Jermaine Paul took America by storm when he won the second season of NBC’s “The Voice.” But what people might not know is that he’s a dedicated father and husband who gives back to his community.

Paul auditioned for the second season of the singing show in 2012. As he sang Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green turned their chairs. On the show, Paul also wowed the nation with his velvety, R&B voice while singing R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

“It was one of the most craziest experiences I’ve had in my life,” he said. “That’s when I realized this is what I wanted to do, and I needed to be that man that my father always wanted me to be.”

A native of Harriman, N.Y., Paul was raised in Rockland County, upstate and the Bronx. He began singing at home with his family, getting tutelage from his father and drawing attention from church and local talent shows. He cites R&B males of the 1990s such as Jodeci, Boyz II Men and D’Angelo as some of his inspirations. “Every time I sing, I feel. I would not sing if I could not feel. If I could not sing, I don’t think I could live,” he said.

He went to start his own group, One Accord, and did a song for a movie soundtrack with the group. The group also sang at local venues, including Harlem’s Sylvia’s Restaurant. “We had folks who had songs on the radio who did not want to go on after us, because by then, everyone had left,” he said.

During one performance, he caught the eye of R&B superstar Alicia Keys. Keys asked Paul to join her in Europe and fill in as a background singer on gigs. The work even–tually led him to singing on Keys’ 2004 single “Diary.”

Paul also opened for several of Keys’ performances.

“I had been singing background for years, and I wasn’t fulfilled. I wanted more, and I still feel like there is more,” he said.

A family man with a wife and four children, he tried out for “The Voice” and made the cut. However, he thought he would not be picked because he had already accomplished so much.

“I thought they would see what I had done in the past and say I was too overqualified,” he said. “I was away from my family for three months when I did the show, but they were able to come out for the tapings.”

Paul said that the moment he won was a full circle moment for him.

“I was surprised, but I had such a feeling of validation of all of the hard work I had put in. I had never won first place before, and it was right on time for myself and my family,” he said.

Since his win, Paul has been out on New York’s music scene with regular performances at Sugar Bar. He also has an upcoming performance at the Apollo Theater’s Music Cafe on Oct. 5. He’s currently working on his first album, scheduled for release in December.

Along with his own singing career, he’s helping others start their own. Paul hosts a monthly talent event for young singers in Orange County through his program “Spotlight.” He plans to one day open a youth and performing arts center.