On May 9th, 2012 after millions of viewers around the world voted, the season finale of the hit show The Voice began airing the results. The celebrity judges of Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton had done all they could to mentor and guide their perspective singers. The last two standing were Jermaine Paul, a former backup singer for multi platinum artist Alicia Keys, and other finalist Juliet Simms. They stood on stage as Carson Daly was prepared to reveal how the world voted. But before we get there, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane to see the humble beginnings of Mr. Paul.
Born in New York in the late 70’s, Jermaine had a classic upbringing singing and playing instruments in church. It was there he perfected his talent and quickly gained a reputation as a crooner in school. People often lined the hallways to hear him singing as he moved from class to class. With such a gift, he was quickly recruited to join a quartet as well as singing for numerous other choirs. Paul has often said it was his rearing in the church that taught him the foundations of servanthood and humility. It was these same qualities that made him a treasure to the talented Alicia Keys.
It is not that uncommon to find singing sensations making a living with their talents in the background of super stars. What is uncommon is to find the rare gem of talent found in Jermaine with contentment in making others look good. While writing and producing his own material for future projects, Jermaine made himself completely available to travel with Keys. He was dubbed her ‘favorite’ vocalist whenever she had a show to do, garnering him a permanent spot in an industry known for a revolving door. He was a familiar scene posted behind Alicia from concerts overseas to daytime appearances on the Today Show. For many, Jermaine had the life. But there was something that burned in him to share himself on a greater stage.
Look at some of the steps he took to get into the Spotlight:
- He made sure his current employer was pleased: So often in our quest to be greater, we begin to neglect the spot we are in now. In order to move up, the platform you stand on must be stable and secure. Jermaine never missed his recording sessions or gigs with Alicia chasing his dream. He made certain that when he needed to stellar reference, she would be able to say good things.
- He learned that preparation time is never wasted time: At times we miss the big picture. Life isn’t about the destination as much as the journey. Jermaine utilized every moment as an opportunity to get better. He learned guitar, classical piano and other skills that made him more than just a good voice. When we expand our expertise, we create a value associated to our presence. This keeps us employable.
- He valued the feedback of family: Upon winning, Jermaine was rushed with affection from his wife and children. When interviewed, she mentioned he always asked for both her opinion and support knowing every decision would greatly affect them as well. While describing her husband, all she could say was he stayed true to his roots. If we are going to be great, we will need the support and love of those closest to us. They will be the wind beneath our wings that allow us to soar to new heights. Value their presence as your cheering section.
The competition was stiff for this season’s The Voice. Many came and went. But not many came with a personal video endorsement from Alicia Keys. As America held its breath anticipating the winner, Jermaine said he whispered a prayer that God’s perfect will be done. Whether they called his name or not, he knew he’d done what he was supposed to. In a split second, it was confirmed that Jermaine Paul was no longer a backup singer. He was ushered into the spotlight. What we can learn from him is that the journey may be long and sometimes thankless. But when you are following your heart, you can always find your way to the spotlight.