photo: NBCJermaine Paul had been on the sidelines of the music scene for years before winning Season 2 of "The Voice" this week, singing backup for the likes of Alicia Keys (who actually phoned him during Tuesday's finale while he was onstage). And speaking backstage to Yahoo!'s Reality Rocks after his win (and right before heading off to celebrate at the afterparty), he proudly declared that all his hard work had finally paid off. "It means the world to me to be here. It helps me make sense of everything that I've done thus far. I know that sounds crazy, because this is a reality show, but that's just how it is," he said. "I've been singing background for 10 years, and I've been pursuing a solo music career for 17 years. And believe it or not, sometimes you've got to play the background to be up front. And that's what I had to do, and it actually helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I feel so complete."
While some people might have been surprised by Jermaine's triumph on "The Voice" Tuesday night--he'd kept a relatively low profile on the show compared to more flamboyant or controversial contestants--his landslide 73 percent victory over Erin Willett in last week's semifinals was probably a better indication of his popularity than any number of iTunes downloads or Twitter followers. But Jermaine revealed that he didn't really think it all came together for him until this week, when he competed on Monday for the final time.
"For me, it happened last night," he said. "It happened doing 'I Believe I Can Fly,' it happened doing 'Soul Man' with [my coach] Blake [Shelton], and it happened singing 'God Gave Me You' to Blake. I think that's when it all made sense, you know, to America."
When asked whether he thought any of the drama going on between two of the other coaches, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine, helped the classier Team Blake's cause, Jermaine simply said: "I don't know if that played a part or what. I'm just so happy with my decision in choosing [Blake], and that America made the decision in choosing me."
As for his future musical plans, Jermaine said he will work with Blake (arguably "The Voice's" most supportive and enthusiastic coach) down the road, and he will record "good music." When asked to elaborate, Jermaine laughed: "Everybody wants to know what type of music! Like the music you heard on the show. Just emotionally driven music. Songs that are going to speak to the heart, and speak to the core."
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