Black music stars that blew up after reality TV

Photo: Getty Images

Everyone has to start somewhere, and that goes for some of the biggest names in music.

Reality television has proven to be a rapid way to become a household name whether it be through a talent reality series/ singing competition or one that focuses on entertaining audiences with nothing but good ol’ drama!

Many Black artists’ careers either began on reality TV or were catapulted into the public eye after years of working in the shadows.

Here are five Black music artists whose careers blew up after their reality TV appearances.

Cardi B

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Photo: Getty Images

This unstoppable rapper’s rise to fame started on social media, but her stint on Love & Hip-Hop took her to the next level. Cardi B, a New York native, instantly became a fan favorite thanks to her realness, funny one-liners, and her constant grind in the music industry. The “WAP” rapper also wasn’t afraid to take off her wig and throw down with those who crossed her.

Even though she was only featured on the series for two seasons, Cardi became an unforgettable face despite the revolving cast. After announcing her departure from L&HH in December 2016, the “Bodak Yellow” rapper’s first studio album, Invasion of Privacy (2018), debuted No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cardi B has continued to make history, earning dozens of honors and awards, and even being named one of the most influential female rappers of all time.

Usher

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Photo: Getty Images

Before he was a star-studded recording artist and worldwide icon, Usher was a 13-year-old kid competing on the talent show Star Search. While young Usher Raymond IV didn’t get far in the competition, the opportunity introduced him to L.A. Reid, one of the founders of LaFace Records. Usher released his first album in 1994, but his commercial and critical acclaim would come from his sophomore album My Way.

Usher emerged as one of the most influential R&B music artists and performers of the 2000s, paving the way for future stars like Justin Bieber and Trey Songz. He’s also made multiple movie and television appearances, even serving as a coach on The Voice. The “Burn” singer now owns his own record label, has dozens of awards, and operates many business ventures.

Miguel

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Photo: Getty Images

Grammy-winning R&B artist Miguel‘s music career started back in 2005 when he auditioned for the BET show Blowin’ Up! Fatty Koo. While his behavior overshadowed his performance — he showed up late to his audition and appeared overconfident — two years after bombing his audition, he ended up signing to a record label.

Miguel’s first album, All I Want Is You, came out in 2010 and was met with nearly immediate success. Miguel proceeded to release banger album after banger album, garnering critical acclaim for each one. His latest release is a 2021 EP called Art Dealer Chic 4.

Jennifer Hudson

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Photo: Getty Images

This iconic singer and actress’ road to success started on American Idol. Jennifer Hudson was a 2004 finalist on this super popular show, ultimately placing seventh, but her star continued to rise after her run on American Idol.

Her breakout happened after her role in the 2006 film, Dreamgirls, which earned Hudson an Oscar and made her the youngest Black person to win in a competitive acting category at the Academy Awards. That was also the same year she signed to her first record label, Arista Records. The “Spotlight” singer released her first album in 2008 and would go on to earn numerous music and film nominations, awards, and honors.

Most recently, Hudson became the second Black woman to join the elite EGOT club and she will soon add “talk show host” to her resume, as well.

Beyoncé

63rd Grammy Awards at Staples Center
Photo: Los Angeles Times

Usher wasn’t the only one who appeared on Star Search. The Queen Bey was 12 years old when she competed in the talent show while part of the group Girls Tyme. After the group’s loss, Beyoncé would join Destiny’s Child, catapulting her music career. When the emerging star went solo, she saw incredible success thanks to songs like “Single Ladies” and “Halo.”

Now one of the world’s best-selling recording artists and one of the most influential icons of the modern century, Beyoncé has hundreds of accolades, awards, and titles under her belt. She also has a successful clothing line, acting career, endorsements and partnerships, and several business ventures.

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