The Voice Winner Jermaine Paul: Former Boss Alicia Keys Is "So Proud of Me"

Entertainment May. 9, 2012 AT 12:15PM
Jermaine Paul and Alicia Keys Jermaine Paul and Alicia Keys Credit: Jonathan Leibson/WireImage.com; Johnny Nunez/Getty

Jermaine Paul has come a long way since his days singing backup for Alicia Keys.

Named as The Voice's second season champ, the 32-year-old R&B performer tells Us Weekly his former boss Keys, 31, was among the first to congratulate him on scoring a record deal with Universal.

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"She called me onstage," Paul said after the show of Keys, whose manager is Paul's close friend. "She was screaming at the top of her lungs. She made me feel like a million bucks."

Earning top honors over Juliet Simms, Tony Lucca and Chris Mann on Tuesday, Paul was largely speechless after his win, but managed to get through a performance of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" with his family by his side.

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"This thing has been a journey for me on so many different levels: the song choices, every time hitting that stage it's been a journey," reflected Paul, who has also sang backup for Mary. J. Blige.

Paul also received a healthy amount of kudos from his Voice coach, Blake Shelton. After host Carson Daly announced Paul's name, Shelton was as "happy as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Ronald McDonald in one!" reports Paul. "He was like, 'I told ya, buddy.' It was crazy."

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Paul says he'll forever be indebted to Shelton, who took a chance on him during the show's initial audition round. "[Blake] reminds me a lot of myself, believe it or not. The fact that he kept me around, that's all I really asked of him to do," Paul told Us. "He said 'the rest is up to you' and I feel like I've done my job for him. He's definitely done his job for me."

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