By Cary Shuman
Brennan Hepler hails from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home each year to the Little League World Series, an international showcase for baseball.
And while Hepler – whose stage name is “Beane” – did play Little League baseball growing up in central Pennsylvania, it’s his superlative musical talents that could soon catapult him into international fame.
A 23-year-old graduate of the world renowned Berklee College of Music and a resident of Brighton, Hepler will be auditioning on the popular show, American Idol, on ABC-TV Sunday, March 7.
Hepler will perform at the audition in front of celebrity judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. Hepler’s goal is to receive the coveted “Golden Ticket” that would send him on to Idol’s Hollywood Week.
Hepler is already generating sizable chatter in the American Idol sphere and those who have seen him perform at Boston venues are predicting that he will not only ace his Idol audition, but he will be a big-time contender for one of the most significant titles and springboards in the music industry: American Idol. Such current superstars as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, and Adam Lambert launched their amazing careers via American Idol.
One interesting question that Idol fans are conversing about is: How tall is Brennan Hepler? Those who have seen his official American Idol audition photo believe the handsome singer and songwriter is 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
“That photo does me justice -it really does make me look tall,” said Hepler approvingly. “I am 5-11 and I look like I’m 6-3 in that photo. But we’re working with we’ve got.”
An early love of music
Hepler said he used to sing songs at home as a child, but it was at a small local school, the Uptown Music Collective in Williamsport, where he developed his passion for music.
“That is kind of what ignited the flame and fire, if you will,” said Hepler. “I took lessons there for the last few years of high school, but I was always singing and performing. The way that we were taught at the school was really just by performing like the greats. So we did a ton of tributes to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Michael Jackson – we learned by example.”
A straight A-student at the top of his class in high school, Hepler applied only to Berklee College of Music. He attended Berklee for four years and received his degree in Music Business/Management in 2019.
“Berklee was wonderful,” said Hepler. “I’m sure my teachers will attest that I might not have been the best student, but I was always happy to be there and I definitely shined on stage, not so much in the classroom.”
He offered high praise for the esteemed faculty at Berklee, notably Professors John Stein and Peter Eldridge. Hepler and Eldridge graduated from the same high school 20 years apart and Eldridge was a director of Hepler’s all-state jazz choir.
Hepler performed in shows at Berklee and after becoming “Beane,” he did a number of successful gigs in the Boston area. In February, 2020, he received rave reviews for his show at the Great Scott, a well-known venue on Commonwealth Avenue. But the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of his performance schedule for the remainder of the year.
Hepler will play the piano and sing during his American Idol audition.
“Meeting the judges was a larger-than-life experience,” said Hepler. “Being from a small town, and to see them [the judges] only on screen your whole life, and then to see them in person, you kind of pinch yourself and you’re like, ‘Is this real?’’’
Hepler is one of several Berklee students who are auditioning on American Idol’s 2021 season. Current Berklee students Anilie List and Grace Kinstler earned their “Golden Ticket” to Idol Hollywood Week after stellar auditions on American Idol episodes in February.