R&B balladeer Jaheim Hoagland hails from New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he grew up in the 176 Memorial Parkway Homes public housing project. Misfortune hit early: his father died in 1981, when he was only two years old. Coming from a musical family helped him overcome the tragedy and the many pitfalls of his environment. His grandfather, Victor Hoagland, sang with many top groups, including the Drifters, and their family reunions were big songfests. Singing at family reunions and local talent shows preceded a successful tryout at the Apollo Theater's famously tough talent show. The crooner, whose sound resembled an unlikely hybrid of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, won the contest three times when he was 15.