Backup Singers Who Blew Up

"The Voice" winner Jermaine Paul started out in the shadows.

Backup Singers Who Blew Up - You probably didn't know the name Jermaine Paul till he won NBC's hit reality show The Voice this past Tuesday, May 8. But that doesn't mean you hadn't heard his talents before: He'd already sung backup for Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and others. But Paul's career path isn't so unlikely. Some of music's biggest stars started out in the shadow of more successful singers before nabbing the spotlight for themselves. Click on to see other backup singers who blew up. —Alex Gale  (Photo: Justin Lubin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

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Backup Singers Who Blew Up - You probably didn't know the name Jermaine Paul till he won NBC's hit reality show The Voice this past Tuesday, May 8. But that doesn't mean you hadn't heard his talents before: He'd already sung backup for Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and others. But Paul's career path isn't so unlikely. Some of music's biggest stars started out in the shadow of more successful singers before nabbing the spotlight for themselves. Click on to see other backup singers who blew up. —Alex Gale (Photo: Justin Lubin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

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Whitney Houston - As a teenager, Whitney was already singing backup for Lou Rawls, Jermaine Jackson and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," which, ironically, she later turned into a hit of her own in 1992. 

Luther Vandross - The late, legendary Luther had a pre-fame backup-vocal r?sum? that was top-notch: David Bowie, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic and Barbra Streisand.  (Photo: Scott Harrison/Getty Images)

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Luther Vandross - The late, legendary Luther had a pre-fame backup-vocal résumé that was top-notch: David Bowie, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic and Barbra Streisand.  (Photo: Scott Harrison/Getty Images)

Faith Evans - Faith contributed backup vocals for Mary J. Blige's classic sophomore album, My Life, and Usher's self-titled 1994 debut before stepping out on her own. (Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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Faith Evans - Faith contributed backup vocals for Mary J. Blige's classic sophomore album, My Life, and Usher's self-titled 1994 debut before stepping out on her own. (Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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Angie Stone - Angie Stone has done it all: solo R&B star, pioneering femcee as one-half of early-'80s duo Sequence and backup vocalist for D'Angelo and Lenny Kravitz.  (Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

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Keri Hilson - Hilson's known as a hit solo artist and songwriter, but she broke into the biz as a backup vocalist for producer Anthony Dent, who had her sing for Usher, Ludacris, Kelly Rowland, Ciara and Polow da Don. (Photo: Scott Gries/PictureGroup)

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Keri Hilson - Hilson's known as a hit solo artist and songwriter, but she broke into the biz as a backup vocalist for producer Anthony Dent, who had her sing for Usher, Ludacris, Kelly Rowland, Ciara and Polow da Don. (Photo: Scott Gries/PictureGroup)

"You're Mine (Eternal)" - This single screams "classic Mariah" as remnants of her old formula are visible, from the harmonizing ad-libs to the romantic lyrics. "You make me feel like our love would never end/ How can I forget," she sings. Although she's been married since 2008, this song is still in the honeymoon phase.(Photo: Jeff Daly/PictureGroup)

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Mariah Carey - Mariah started out as a backup singer for late-'80s "Freestyle Queen" Brenda Starr, who helped her sign her first deal by giving her demo to Columbia Records exec Tommy Mottola.  (Photo: Jeff Daly/PictureGroup)

John Legend - Before he began living up to his lofty last name, John was Kanye West's go-to backup singer, providing vocals on much of his debut, The College Dropout, and Yeezy-produced hits like Jay-Z's "Encore" and Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name." (photo: John Ricard / BET)

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John Legend - Before he began living up to his lofty last name, John was Kanye West's go-to backup singer, providing vocals on much of his debut, The College Dropout, and Yeezy-produced hits like Jay-Z's "Encore" and Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name." (photo: John Ricard / BET)

Origins - Born and raised in North Carolina, Anthony Hamilton began singing in his church choir at the age of 10. He moved to NYC after high school to kick off his career but found some delays, so in 2000 he signed on to sing back up for none other than D?Angelo for the prodigal son of R&B?s international Voodoo tour. (Photo: Chris Weeks/WireImage)

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Anthony Hamilton - "Comin' From Where I'm From" crooner Anthony Hamilton sang backup on D'Angelo's incredible Voodoo tour before striking out on his own.(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Minnie Riperton - Years before she flexed her five-and-a-half-octave range on classics like "Lovin' You" and "Les Fleurs," Minnie Riperton was a member of the session group Studio Three, who provided backing vocals on Fontella Bass's 1965 hit "Rescue Me."  (Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

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Minnie Riperton - Years before she flexed her five-and-a-half-octave range on classics like "Lovin' You" and "Les Fleurs," Minnie Riperton was a member of the session group Studio Three, who provided backing vocals on Fontella Bass's 1965 hit "Rescue Me."  (Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

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Belting It Out - Singer Mary J. Blige performs the United States National Anthem. (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Mary J. Blige - Before she ascended to her throne, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul was a humble backup singer to new-jack-swing crooner Jeff Redd, who helped sign Blige to her breakthrough deal with Uptown Records.  (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Vesta Williams - Vesta Williams, who died suddenly last year from heart disease, sang backup for Chaka Khan, Sting, Anita Baker and other legends, before dropping her 1986 solo debut, Vesta.