The father of four — and former background singer for Alicia Keys — narrowly edged out edgy rocker Juliet Simms by a margin of four percent.
33 year-old Paul — who got his start singing in church choirs near his home in Rockland County, NY as a kid — was joined on stage by his entire family and struggled to keep his composure during an emotional encore of R. Kelly’s anthem “I Believe I Can Fly.”
“It was such an emotional moment. I felt complete validation — like all the work I had done up until this point…made sense,” he gushed, moments after stepping off stage.
The newly minted champ also said he had received a congratulatory phone call from Keys and the pair are planning to collaborate on a record this year.
Check out the full interview below: