Singing has been his passion since he could talk. Now, at age 13, a Maple Valley teen is living the dream on “The Voice Kids” in Germany.
Benicio “Beni” Bryant, a student at Summit Trail Middle School, was recruited by “The Voice Kids” in Germany to sing on their show.
“The Voice Kids” is a television show in Germany where kids 16 and younger sing in hopes of finding a celebrity coach to help guide them to winning the grand prize of 17,000 euros, or about $20,000 and a record deal.
In order to get a coach and move on to the next round, at least one of the judges (coaches) must turn their chair, which is faced away from the performer, to face the singer. Once that happens, if multiple coaches turn around, the singer must choose which one they want to coach them.
America has The Voice, but not one just for kids.
“We have The Voice here, obviously, but they don’t have “The Voice Kids” here in America, the one in Germany is much bigger than the one here in the United States,” Beni’s dad, Jeremy Bryant said.
“The Voice Kids” discovered him on his YouTube channel, according to Beni.
They contacted the Bryant family and asked Beni to audition over Skype.
“Man, it was probably the craziest thing ever. It was shocking too because like at first we kind of thought it was a joke and just like a prank call, but it wasn’t, it was like for real, it was so cool,” Beni said.
According to Jeremy, he wouldn’t let his family watch his audition.
“He wouldn’t let us in the room, so we had to hide outside,” Jeremy said.
His family was excited that Beni — who has been singing since he was 2 years old — was being recognized for his talent at such a young age.
“It’s not like a hobby, it’s a passion. It’s so amazing,” Beni said while describing why he loves to sing.
Three weeks after the Skype audition, which according to Beni was a little nerve racking, the Bryant family was off to Germany, all-expenses paid for by The Voice.
Once Beni, Jeremy, his mom and his little sister made it to Germany in November, Beni said it was nothing like he had experienced before.
“Just being in another country, alone, is crazy, but being in a competition like this is way cooler,” Beni said.
While the family was exploring the area, they took a taxi everywhere they went and, according to Jeremy, some of the taxi drivers treated Beni like a celebrity once they found out he was on “The Voice Kids”.
“We would get into a cab and the cab driver would say ‘What brings you to Germany?’ And then my daughter would go ‘Oh my brother’s on The Voice.’ One time, the cab driver pulled over and he was like ‘You’re on the Voice?’ He (the cab driver) took a picture of him (Beni) and texted it to his daughter,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy and his wife were much more nervous than Beni was.
“I was a nervous wreck,” Jeremy explained.
Once it was time to do the blind auditions for “The Voice Kids”, it all became very real for Beni.
According to Jeremy, Beni’s previous experience with performing in front of people is what kept him calm, focused and ready to perform.
“He does other gigs, so he had the experience for only being 13 and I think that really helped on The Voice,” Jeremy said.
The blind auditions are when the coaches have their chairs faces away and can’t see who is singing until they turn around.
“It’s just like TV you know, you see it on TV and it’s the exact same thing and all of the coaches are really famous and, I really didn’t know who they were, but it was cool seeing the audience react to them when they were sitting in the seats, it was really cool,” Beni said.
Beni decided to sing “Bird Set Free” by Sia.
“It was different from singing for my family, definitely, it was nerve-racking, but it was fun, I really liked it,” Beni said.
According to Jeremy, he and his wife had a bit of a different experience while he was performing. He said they were extremely nervous for Beni, not only because her was performing for millions of people on TV, but also because he did not speak German.
Once Beni was done singing, all four judges turned around for him.
The judges started to speak to Beni is German, which was a little scary for him he said because he had no idea what they were saying.
Once Beni said “English please,” all of the judges spoke perfect English for him.
Now came the hard part for Beni picking a judge to be his coach.
All of the judges fought for him, trying to convince Beni which one was the best for him.
He ended up picking Max Giesinger, a singer-song writer from Waldbronn, Germany.
“I choose Max. I feel like he’s kind of like, if I was comparing him to an American singer he would be like an Ed Sheeran. He’s really cool and I choose him because I felt like he was very confident,” Beni said.
The next day, the Bryant family flew back to SeaTac and made it home safe and sound, but the craziness wasn’t over yet.
Once the episode of Beni’s blind audition aired in Germany, Beni’s phone started blowing up with Instagram followers, according to Beni and Jeremy.
“His Instagram, it was like he hit the jackpot, it was just going ‘ding, ding, ding,’ like all these people started joining his Instagram. So we were like ‘It must have aired over there.’ He got 500 followers in like five minutes or so,” Jeremy said.
Beni said he now has about 2,000 followers on Instagram.
Not only has his Instagram blown up, but according to Jeremy he has 23 fan pages made by mostly German.
“To think back like a year ago, I had friends and family that were fans and now I have fans I don’t even know and it’s really crazy,” Beni said.
Next for Beni on his crazy adventure is the Battle Round portion of the show, which he flew back for in January.
Unfortunately, that has not aired yet, so nothing can be disclosed about his second time trip to Germany.
All Beni can say is that he got to work with his coach, Max, when he went back and he had a great time.
According to Beni, this is everything he’s wanted.
“I wanted this to happen and I was so excited hearing that I was going to go to Germany, it was like a dream come true,” Beni said.
Jeremy said he has never been more proud or happy for his son.
“It’s been a crazy, exciting journey because Beni has been singing for so long now, and he’s always been performing at every family function, sings on the table in front of people, so we kind of felt like this was the direction he was heading, but this Germany thing, like he was saying, it didn’t feel real at first,” Jeremy said.
To see Beni perform live, he will be singing at Jazzbones in Tacoma, a restaurant and nightclub, for a family friendly performance on March 24. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available at jazzbones.com.