Jermaine Paul, Winner of The Voice Season 2, Talks About Life in Orange County and Winning the Competition
A Harriman resident sings his way to stardom on The Voice
May 8, 2012. The lights dim. Hearts thump. After months of watching vocalists compete and get voted through by viewers, fans are captivated by the finale of NBC’s national vocal talent search show The Voice. Only one contestant will walk away with $100,000 and a contract with Universal Records. And the winner is... the Valley’s very own Jermaine Paul. The second season champion grew up in Spring Valley and Monroe (with a short detour to Alabama), and has called Harriman home for most of his adult life. His longtime gig as a back-up singer for Alicia Keys “helped support my family; we had four kids before we were 23,” says the 32-year-old soul singer. “But I always wanted to put my own music out.” Here, Paul reflects on his journey to national fame and tells us why he is still so happy in Harriman (psst — the pizza at Marina’s on Rte. 17 helps).
You grew up in Spring Valley as one of 10 children. Was there always music in your house?
My siblings and I used to have little talent shows in the living room. It drove my mother crazy. She always wanted a regular living room but my dad kept amps and mic stands there so it looked like a rehearsal studio.
Does anyone else in the family sing?
All my kids sing and play around with it, but my daughter Aurelia is the only one who takes it seriously. My wife doesn’t sing at all. She tries to, but we tell her no.
Why did you decide to do The Voice?
My daughter actually pushed me to do the show. I was the type who would leave the room when she watched the singing shows; she insisted though, and I came to appreciate the integrity The Voice carries.
Were you satisfied with your audition?
I actually auditioned with bronchitis, and at the time my mother was hospitalized. Emotionally and physically I was going through a lot. But I’m happy with the outcome of the whole show.
How did you select songs?
Honestly, I knew I had to do certain ones because of the Hudson Valley. I remembered K104 and WHUD, and I tried to think of songs that play on those stations since people love to hear them. I did “Livin’ on a Prayer” because it’s a song everybody sings when it comes on in a bar here in Harriman. That chorus is an anthem. “Against All Odds” and “Open Arms” I chose for the same reason.
Any pre-performance rituals?
I always pray. And my neck cramps before I sing, so I have to move my head like a boxer before I go on.
How did your family help you through the competition?
I constantly asked my wife for her thoughts. I consult her all the time. If I’m tying my shoe, I ask her.
What was it like to win?
I always felt I could win something like this, and to actually do it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to start my career. When they announced my name, I felt like I’d lost my legs. I had to walk around a little to ensure it was real.
How did Harriman react?
The signs are still up now. Everybody rallied behind me. Places like the Harriman Square Deli made posters and put them up in the windows. Lots of people said they voted for me a ton of times.
We have to ask: What will you do with the big check?
Buy a house in this area.
Why did you and your wife decide Harriman was the place for your family?
Because we just love it here. Harriman was like the suburbia we saw on television. Every time we think about moving away, we can’t find anywhere that would substitute for this place, this town, and these people.
Any Valley concerts in the future?
I might do a couple shows for the people around town; we’ll see.
You recently released your first single, “Butterfly Kisses.” When can we expect an album?
We’re hoping to drop another single in the fall and have the album drop in the winter.
Are you adjusting well to the spotlight?
I’m not overwhelmed. I’m ready.