Celebrated Singers Who Caught Their Break at a Talent Show

Britney Spears Portrait Sessions
Britney Spears Portrait Sessions / L. Busacca/GettyImages

Talent shows are a big deal, as everyone wants a shot at the title. These events serve as stepping stones for some bragging rights in one’s community, but for some people, they proved to be more than that. Talent scouts tend to visit the shows searching for the next diamond in the rough, and believe it or not, these guys are responsible for some of your favorite acts. Interestingly, it's not always about winning, as some of the people on this list surpassed their counterparts who won the show. With that, we present eight impressive acts discovered on talent shows.

They Call Her Queen B for a Reason

Beyonce Knowles is arguably the biggest entertainer on the planet, and anyone who says otherwise must contend with the fury of the Beyhive. Her journey began in 1993 when she was 12 years old after performing in Star Search, where her stage presence is still evident. Sadly, Bey and her cohort of 5 other girls didn't win the competition, but that was just the start for her.

This Is Britney, the Princess of Pop

As an iconic pop star, it's hard to imagine Britney Spears on the stage of Star Search at 11 years old, but that is how she got her footing in the industry. Yet, this wasn't her first rodeo, as she had already racked up camera time appearing in some commercials. Later, Britney would join The Mickey Mouse Club, and things would take off. She now boasts several albums and is revered as the princess of pop. Unfortunately, the title of queen is reserved for Madonna, but we doubt Britney has any qualms about this.

The Girl From the Island

Before anyone took Rihanna seriously, she was busy putting her 10,000 hours performing in talent shows. Her drive earned her her school's talent competition trophy, and a year later, she signed her first record deal. Since then, Rihanna has morphed into one of the most electrifying entertainers on stage. Additionally, she has used her fame to gain ground in the acting landscape and various entrepreneurship ventures. As a Forbes-certified billionaire, the singer is probably glad she did the work. 

The Man in Sync

After talking about Britney Spears, it would be unfair to exclude Justin Timberlake from this list. These pop stars have so much in common—they both performed in Star Search at eleven years, and their careers picked up after joining The Mickey Mouse Club. Fun fact: before he became Justin Timberlake, the singer performed as Justin Randall. If you ask us, it's difficult picturing him as a Randall; the name change was a good call.

Before She Became the Judge

As an X-Factor judge, Nicole knew her stuff because she was at the other end of the chopping block a few years back. This was years before she joined the Pussycat Dolls and was part of Eden's Crush. Surprisingly, Nicole didn't want to compete in Popstar, and it took her mum's intervention to make it happen.

He Ushered in a New Era

Usher had one of the most outstanding child performances on Star Search, where he sustained a note for 12 seconds, wowing the judges and the fans. The it factor was there, but it wasn't enough to win over the judges. Luckily, LaFace records thought otherwise and gave the boy a contract, catapulting him to fame and stardom.

She Took It Like a Boss

Jennifer Hudson is one of the most respected vocalists of her generation and even boasts EGOT status. Interestingly, in 2004, the American Idol contest saw her leave quite early. Nonetheless, she leveraged the fame and fanbase she got to push her career. Since then, she got a leading role in Dreamgirls and is portraying Aretha Franklin in her biopic. Honestly, it can't get any better than this.

The Irony of This

Alanis Morissette deserves a place on this list thanks to how much she went through before hitting the jackpot. The legendary singer attempted not one, but two major talent shows before she made it. First, when she was 13, she tried the Canadian talent show called Rising Star Talent Competition which didn't pan out as expected. Three years later, the second round proved the charm as Alanis opted to give Star Search a chance, and voila. After eight albums and several awards, she has cemented her legacy as a musician.

Quick question: Were there any surprises on this list? This compilation barely scratches the surface, but at least you can see the origin stories of some of your favorite acts. It’s always a good idea to know how your faves began their journey because somehow, it makes one cherish and appreciate their talents more.