'The Voice's' Jermaine Paul: 'I Did My Job' for Blake Shelton
The former back-up singer talks about his momentous journey on the NBC competition's second season.
Jermaine Paul was the first to perform on NBC’s second season finale of The Voice on Tuesday. And to hear him talk about it, that performance of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” with returning team members Jamar Rogers, James Massone and Pip would have been enough for the singer.
“I told myself I’d be OK with whatever the results were going to be,” Paul, 33, told reporters after the show. “I wanted to go out and do the best performance ever with Pip, Jamar and James on that stage.”
“I was like five years old when the Jacksons did the Motown 25 reunion,” he continues. “This was the beginning of my love for music. Michael had the glove and the socks and the brothers came out and they did ‘I Want You Back.’ I wanted to recapture that moment. So, even if I don’t win, I wanted to leave it like that.”
Well, the former back-up singer for artists such as Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and Joss Stone was able to celebrate both that recaptured musical moment and The Voice’s second season win. That, in turn, gives his coach, country singer Blake Shelton, the bragging rights of ushering Paul through to the championship.
“Blake happy is like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Ronald McDonald in one. ‘I told you, buddy!’ He was so proud and so happy,” Paul says. “Blake is a good guy. He’s a country boy and I respect him. I get him. I understand him. He’s like my friends back home and he reminds me a lot of myself. Yeah, we’re different genres from different places. But, he’s a man. And the fact that he kept me around? That’s all I could ever ask for him to do and he said, ‘The rest is up to you.’ And I think I did my job for him.”
During the course of his journey from a blind audition in which he performed Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” to his finals performance of R Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” it’s clear that Shelton helped Paul hone in on his voice.
“This whole experience kind of sharpened my blade,” Paul says. “Even Blake being my coach, his questions and his song ideas helped me kind of really focus on what I really wanted to get across to the world and America, what I really want to say. I mean it’s OK to go up and sing and dance, but what are you really trying to get across to the listener? It really helped me choose my songs.”
“People call them rock songs or pop songs,” he continues. “But I just call them good songs, when the lyrics are really speaking to you. And everybody is going through an ‘Open Arms,’ everyone is going through ‘Against All Odds,’ everyone has gone through a ‘Living On A Prayer.’ Every race, religion, we’ve all been through it.”
Shelton shares a mutual admiration for his winning performer, “He picked me as his coach, he had an option and he chose me. I can’t thank him enough for that. And he listened to stuff that I had to say. But, we went there together. Everything we did, we met in the middle on. But more than anything, the guy can sing the phonebook, he’s that good.”
Paul’s other musical mentor and friend, Keys, also made sure Paul knew right away how she felt about his win by calling while he was still on stage. “She was screaming at the top of her lungs,” Paul says.
“She made me feel like a million bucks," he goes on to say. "She’s so proud of me. Her and Mama Keys were watching and excited for me. She just expressed how happy she was for me, no better feeling than that.”
Watch Paul, Rogers, Massone and Pip perform "I Want You Back" again below.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro