Benicio "Beni" Bryant (14–15 years old) is an American singer-songwriter, and student from Maple Valley, Washington. In 2017, Germany's The Voice Kids recruited Bryant from his YouTube videos for their singing competition in which Bryant, the only American in the competition, placed second. Around the same time fellow-Washington native, Brandi Carlile, had Bryant duet on her song "The Joke" in June 2018, on Late Night with Seth Meyers. He came to national attention in the U.S. in June 2019 when his audition for the fourteenth season of the reality competition and talent show America's Got Talent (AGT) aired with his "sky-high" range and "powerful" vibrato. On August 6, 2019, he debuted a song he wrote for the Judges’ Cuts to gets into AGT’s quarterfinals; he is scheduled to appear on the August 27, 2019 episode. The semi-finals, and finals are all scheduled to air in September 2019.
Bryant has been singing since he was two, and "performing at every family function" since. His father bought him a drum kit when he was four as Benicio had been drumming the furniture leaving marks. He's always been a musical child, and aside from some guitar lessons, he's mostly self-taught. When he was eight, Bryant asked to be in the amateur Maple Valley Idol competition. The other contestants were all older kids, but he did place second, and also realized that singing was his life's ambition. He started busking with his guitar wherever his parents would allow. His dad, Jeremy, is known as Big Jay, the Seattle Mariners’ team chef, and often has Benicio sing for the Major League Baseball team's celebrations and send-offs.
As musical influences Bryant cites Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, and Sia. In 2013 he joined YouTube to host his singing videos including acoustic covers and live performances. As of June 2019 his YouTube channel has over 18,000 subscribers, with covers like Beyonce's "Halo" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" (National anthem) that he performed at then-named SAFECO Field in Seattle.
Early career, The Voice Kids
In May 2017 Bryant performed as part of the inaugural Upstream Music Fest + Summit, an annual festival fashioned after South by Southwest, held in Pioneer Square. On June 1, 2017, Bryant joined Maya Rudolph for a duet of "Purple Rain", when her female-fronted tribute band to Prince, called Princess, played Seattle's Neptune Theatre. Around the same time fellow-Washington native, Brandi Carlile, had Bryant duet on her song "The Joke", for a benefit concert at her alma mater Tahoma High School raising funds for the music arts program. Carlile's song is "dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into – and, she insists, destined to triumph over – a divisive time." Bryant would go on to perform the song twice on national television.
In late 2017 Germany's The Voice Kids saw his YouTube Channel videos and asked him to audition online via Skype. In November 2017, within a few weeks, the family of four, including his younger sister, was on an all-expenses paid trip to Germany. He was the only American competing on the show. For the "blind auditions", where the judges only hear the singing of the contestants, Bryant sang Sia’s 2015 song "Bird Set Free", resulting in all four judges to turn chairs in an effort to claim him for their team. Bryant opted to choose singer-songwriter Max Giesinger from Waldbronn, Germany. The family flew back home and waited until it was time to return for the "Battle Round" in January 2018. He next sang James Bay's song "Let It Go" (2014). For his final song he chose Calum Scott‘s song "You Are the Reason" (2017). He came in second. He loves singing but found the experiences of making friends with fellow contestants, then eliminating them in head-to-head battles stressful. May 14, 2018, was declared "Benicio ‘Beni’ Bryant Day" by the city of Maple Valley to honor his competing.
Brandi Carlile, again had Bryant duet on her song "The Joke", she flew the family to New York City in June 2018, to have Benicio sing live on national television for Late Night with Seth Meyers. In November 2018 he released his debut single "My Love" on iTunes.
America's Got Talent
In February 2019, America's Got Talent (AGT), contacted Bryant to see if he and his family would like to visit New York City to audition. The AGT producers had seen his performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers and decided to recruit him. The Bryants debated if it was good for his career and consulted industry advisors who recommended passing on the opportunity. Benicio saw the exposure as being a positive and wanted to take the chance even if it was unlikely he would win.
In June 2019 Bryant's audition for the fourteenth season of the reality competition and talent show aired showing his "sky-high" range and "powerful" vibrato. He sang Brandi Carlile‘s 2017 Grammy Award-winning song "The Joke" “wowing" the judges; Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, and Howie Mandel, who unanimously put him through to the next round. The episode was seen by 9.81 million viewers. In Cowell's feedback he said the audition reminded him of Harry Styles‘ 2010 audition on the similar singing competition The X Factor, "[Bryant] had a presence". Styles and four other young men tried out as soloists but were eliminated, however they were brought back as a group to compete as a boy band, One Direction, which went on to win many awards, sell millions of songs and albums, and set records with their touring before they disbanded to solo careers. On July 2, 2019 AGT showed Bryant's performance on their "Best of Auditions" show along with the four "Golden Buzzer" winners, who automatically advance to the finals. That episode was seen by 6.82 million viewers. Bryant's fan base on Instagram, which had risen to 18,000 from his time on 2017's The Voice Kids, tripled to 55,000 followers following his first audition on AGT.
The rest of the competition was held in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theater. Bryant’s Judges Cuts performance on August 6, 2019 was an original song, “Here Goes Nothing,” that he sang while playing the guitar. He got another standing ovation from the crowd and judges, including guest Jay Leno; they sent him through to the quarterfinals to be aired throughout August 2019.
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