Few artists can say they were hand-picked by Alicia Keys. But 25-year-old Jermaine Paul knows it's all about who you know.

Few artists can say they were hand-picked by Alicia Keys. But 25-year-old Jermaine Paul knows it's all about who you know.

After singing at a talent show for management firm MBK Entertainment, which reps the star R&B singer, Keys chose Paul to join her on an international tour. His warm falsetto is showcased on the Keys hit "Diary," from her album "Unplugged" (J Records). He and Keys also collaborated on a cover of Luther Vandross' "If This World Were Mine," released on J's "So Amazing" tribute to the late singer. Now the Spring Valley, N.Y., native is working with hot songwriter/producers Kerry "Krucial" Brothers (Keys), Devo Springsteen (Kanye West) and John Legend while crafting his as-yet-untitled debut.

"I just want to stay standing flat-footed and sing," Paul says.