WILLIAMSBURG — Tunes in Town is an occasional series that will catch up with some of the local musical talents that call Hampton Roads home.
BJ Griffin wasn’t a big church-goer as a child, but he remembers music at churches and funeral services during his youth. That exposure led him to delve into classical music and fall in love with Bach.
“There was this CD that I rented from the library, Bach Cello Suites, and I just would listen to it over and over and over again. The Bach CD, mixed with my obsession with Whitney Houston as a young child, that shaped who I am as a musician today,” Griffin said.
The classical/funk/jazz/pop/R&B/soul/rock songwriter hasn’t stopped.
“I fell in love with the sound of the cello at a very young age. The cello, I didn’t know it at the time, but the cello is scientifically the closest sound to the human voice. I love the human voice and I think I just love the sound of it. I love the way it sounded and expressing myself through the cello was a therapy for me,” Griffin said.
After selling tickets to a few solo shows of his own, Griffin opened up for an artist at the NorVa Theater. Playing a set of original music, he realized that a music career might be the path he was supposed to be on after all.
“I marketed myself as a singing cellist. I thought it was more of a gimmick, but it morphed into BJ Griffin the artist. I do my original music where I play cello or guitar. I love writing original music and translating my emotions into it. It really sparked my dedication to it,” Griffin said.
In 2023, Griffin auditioned for America’s Got Talent.
“I was doing a show in L.A. where a producer of AGT was at one of my shows. I was doing all original music and she came up to me and told me that she loved my music and loved my energy. She asked if I had ever thought about auditioning for America’s Got Talent,” Griffin said.
Originally, Griffin had no desire to be on the show.
“I told her that I wasn’t really interested in being on the show. After talking to her, she really explained to me about how beneficial it was to be on a show like AGT. I became open to it,” Griffin said.
While he didn’t win, Griffin shared his experience on the show, calling it amazing.
“It was such an amazing experience. The set is like a family, all the people who work for AGT, everyone loves each other and takes care of each other. Getting to work with the producers, choosing songs, working alongside vocal coaches, everything was such an amazing experience. Everyone always talks about reality TV and how it’s not always fun, but AGT is something that I’m proud to be a part of,” Griffin said.
Griffin even noted that while he can be brutally honest, he really appreciated all the criticism from Simon Cowell.
It is not lost on Griffin that his dream to be a performer has come true.
“I’m so grateful for all the places I’ve been able to share my music. I used to talk about wanting to be an international musician, and now I am,” Griffin said.
For Griffin, it’s all about authenticity.
“Everybody wants to play Madison Square Garden, but I just want to have the most authentic effect on people that I can. Whatever that looks like, wether it’s a concert series here locally or it is a big arena, I want to make sure the integrity of my music is translated authentically and it has a positive effect on people,” Griffin said.
While performing himself, Griffin has launched his own management company, Big Juicy Entertainment. He helps manage and develop artists and starts people on their journey into the music industry.
“It’s this beautiful community effort where a rising tide can raise all ships. I’m just really proud of the music industry and what I do with my company. I want to achieve the most good with my company,” Griffin said.
Griffin is currently working on producing his first album, which he hopes to have out soon. He is also working on expanding Big Juicy Entertainment. He also has hopes to tour with his music.
Overall, Griffin hopes to continue to influence the next generation of musicians. He takes immense pride in being a role model for young kids out there.
“My music is bigger than me. I have a chance to show little kids, and really the inner child in me, that you can do anything you put your mind to. You can achieve anything. Don’t let anybody stop you from achieving your dreams. Don’t let anyone say ‘you are too this to do that’ or ‘you are not this enough to do that’. If you keep your eye on the prize, and you let go of all the limiting beliefs and insecurities, and just go for your dreams and never stop, you will be successful,” Griffin said.
For more information on Griffin, visit bjgriffinmusic.com.