Life's been rough for Jamal Lyon during the past few episodes on Fox's Empire , airing Wednesday nights. His music mogul father Lucious said that if Jamal came out as gay to the public, Lucious would stop funding the young man's lavish lifestyle. So, Jamal stayed in the closet. But the last straw was when Lucious completely dissed Jamal's natural singing talent after the middle son crushed it with an intimate performance of a song called "Up All Night." Lucious thinks it's a great song — for John Legend to sing, not Jamal. Ouch. Jamal and his boyfriend Michael packed up their stuff and moved out to a not-as-lavish apartment, but hey, he's getting the hang of it. Not to worry, though — he has the talent to rise above his father's disapproval and discouragement on his own, especially since Jamal is fueled by performer Jussie Smollett's amazing voice.
Smollett may just be winning the hearts of viewers now, but he's been acting and singing for years with his siblings. As you probably already know, Smollett comes from a very talented Hollywood family and one of his sisters is Jurnee Smollett, who played Jess Merriweather on Friday Night Lights. Smollett himself has been belting songs out on YouTube for awhile, too.
Here are some of the actor's prime performances on YouTube. No autotune needed, because true talent always wins in the end (remember that, Jamal).
Five years ago, Smollett uploaded this soulful a cappella recording of a song from his EP Poisoned Hearts Club. Back then, he had a lot more hair and a messy kitchen in the background, but his voice absolutely shines without a backing track.
"Heartless" By Kanye West
Get a sense of Smollett's playful personality in this cover of the Yeezy hit, in which he introduces his back-up singers (and friends?) Chia and Gaby with cute nicknames, including one for himself. Juicy, as he calls himself, owns the song — which was notable for its heavy use of autotune — and Smollett kills it while singing a capella once again.
"Teenage Dream" By Katy Perry
Smollet's voice has great range and you can totally hear that when he hits the high notes in his cover of Perry's pop megahit. Once again, he's flanked by Chia and Gaby — but this time, they're armed with an acoustic guitar. No matter, Smollet's voice still makes you forget about that other pop star who performed at the Super Bowl — at least for a minute and a half.
Smollett has only gotten better as Jamal, and I can't wait to see what he sings next.
Image: Chuck Hodes/Fox