By Andrea Burzynski
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jermaine Paul, the newly crowned winner of popular TV singing competition "The Voice," said on Tuesday he wants to make music that ordinary Americans like himself and his family can relate to - with a few celebrity cameos, of course.
R&B singer Paul, a former backup for Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige, told reporters on a conference call that he has often struggled in his quest for artistic success, an experience he believes is especially common during the economic downturn.
"I just want to bring back good music, songs with a message, songs that speak to the heart of America," Paul told reporters. He said he wanted to reach "folks that are like me and my wife, just trying to make it through during tough times."
"We've been through so much just holding on to each other and holding on to our love. I want to do an album that speaks about that kind of love."
Winning "The Voice" earned Paul a recording contract with Universal Republic Records and $100,000 cash. He is the show's second winner, following last season's Javier Colon.
While Paul may not be crooning about bling or limousines on his upcoming album, he does hope to collaborate with big name stars - this time as a solo artist in his own right.
"We're looking to work with of course Alicia Keys," he revealed.
Paul also said he is looking forward to singing with his coach on "The Voice," country star Blake Shelton.
"There are actually two songs that I think would be cool, but I would definitely let him pick which one he thinks is more fitting," Paul said.
Paul didn't say which songs he had in mind, but mentioned that both are ballads. And he credited Shelton for helping him discover his identity as a solo artist on "The Voice."
"Blake Shelton really helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to say," Paul said. "This show is so great for a guy like me, because I've had to deal with so many different opinions on what I should do, how I should sound, how I should dress. This was 100 percent me."
(Reporting By Andrea Burzynski; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)