Very rarely do winning contestants on a TV talent show have a successful career. Cheryl Lynn proved to be the phenomenal exception. The Los Angeles native won top honors after singing the Billy Preston/Bruce Fisher ballad "You Are So Beautiful" on Chuck Barris' The Gong Show, which aired afternoons on NBC. The appearance was taped in June but didn't air until September. By then, Lynn had forgotten about it and was performing in the play The Wiz on a San Francisco stage. Barris' prediction of Lynn's stardom became a prophesy as after the segment aired, Lynn began receiving phone calls from top music biz execs Ahmet Ertegun, Bob Krasnow, Walter Yetnikoff, Jerry Greenberg, and Bruce Lundvall. The singer who started singing in church didn't know who they were. Persuaded by Lundvall and Yetnikoff, Lynn signed with CBS Records. Executive producer Bruce Johnston paired Lynn with songwriters/producers David Paich and Marty Paich.Lynn and the Paich brothers freely bounced ideas off of each other.
One song co-written by them and David Foster, "Got to Be Real," was chosen as Lynn's debut single. The recording session for the song included guitarist Ray Parker Jr., drummer James Gadson, bassist David Shields, and David Paich on keyboards. The track crackled with the live energy of the session as Lynn and the musicians "bounced off" each other. The million-selling "Got to Be Real" went to number one R&B and number 12 pop in early 1979. Her Columbia debut album, Cheryl Lynn, went gold, going to number five R&B and number 23 pop and yielding the number 16 R&B/number 62 pop single "Star Love." Lynn's next chart-topper would be 1983's "Encore," produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.