Berklee grad, Brennan Helper advances on American Idol
By Cary Shuman
Brennan Hepler, the Berklee College of Music graduate now known to millions of American Idol fans as Beane, has earned a spot in the popular TV show’s final group of 12 contestants.
Hepler, a 23-year-old resident of Brighton, delivered a stirring rendition of Ben Platt’s “Grow As We Go” on Monday’s live show to enter the coveted Top 12 after not receiving a Top 10 nod in the nationwide vote.
“Beane has worked so hard and wants the title and this is his shot to stay in the competition,” said host Ryan Seacrest prior to Beane’s electrifying performance.
Celebrity judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Paula Abdul appreciated Beane’s vocal talents. It had to be overwhelming for Hepler to hear such praise from three absolute giants in the music industry.
“Mr. Beane, I am so proud of you,” Richie said. “You were so relaxed, you were so calm. You grew into your artistry. You enjoy being in that rhythm even though it’s nerve wracking what you’re going through. You gave us a stellar performance where you just relaxed into your talent. On American Idol, you got the best shot of your life.”
Perry said, “There is only one Beane. You have convinced me. I’m a card-carrying Beanie baby. I love seeing you grow. I think you’re not going back. You’re just going forward and your evolution has been amazing to watch.”
Abdul also admitted to being a Beane fan. “I think everything about you is very special and unique,” said Abdul. “You shine like a bright light.”
Hepler, a 2019 Berklee grad, has been in Hollywood (California) for the past month in rehearsals, video promotion packages, and performances for the show.
Hepler talked about Monday’s “sing for your life” performance during a telephone interview.
“I was fortunate to have picked a song that meant a lot to me, so I was very excited about the opportunity to sing that song, above all else,” said Hepler.
The excitement grows each week for Idol contestants as they develop national followings on social media. Helper’s many fans are known as Beanie Babies.
“I’m excited about how it’s progressed so far and I’m really thankful for the support that I’ve gotten from all over the place,” said Hepler. “This has been the most interesting and crazy experience I think I’ll ever have. It’s such a unique experience to go through, so I think that’s why there so much bonding amongst the contestants. The whole thing has been so, so beautiful to connect with people like that. It’s been wonderful.”
Hepler was also excited about the stylish, sequined white jacket and outfit that he wore during his performance Monday night.
“It’s the coolest I’ve ever felt in my life,” he related. “It was very Harry Styles-esque, I guess. It was like Prince meets Harry Styles.”
Hepler said he has received tons of encouraging messages from fellow Pennsylvanians and the Berklee College of Music community.
“The people back home are just so thrilled and I couldn’t be more excited be something that everyone can find some joy in during this time,” said Hepler. “My friends and family have been so incredibly supportive.”
To his many fans in Boston, Hepler offered, “Please tell them how grateful I am for their support and I can’t wait to get back home and make music for people live.”
Berklee College of Music student Grace Kinstler also advanced to American Idol’s Top 12.