John “BJ” Griffin was born in Detroit, Michigan, a city renowned for its rich musical history. However, it was in Virginia Beach, where he moved soon after, that his musical journey began. Discovering a family heirloom violin sparked his interest, but it was the cello that eventually won his heart.
During the 5th grade, BJ was part of the Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Hampton Roads Chamber Players, performing internationally, including concerts in China and Greece. His love for music brought him to James Madison University, where he studied music education, cello performance, and the music industry. It was at this point that he discovered another layer to his musical talent – singing.
BJ’s vocal skills led to him becoming a soloist with the all-male a cappella group Exit 245. He toured and performed along the East Coast, earning recognition when the group appeared on the Best of College A Cappella with Exit 245, a nationwide compilation, twice. BJ was also featured as a soloist on Voices Only 2008, a worldwide compilation, singing “Canned Heat,” a song popularized by Jamiroquai.
During his college years in 2007, BJ initiated his teaching career at Shenandoah Academy High School and Elementary School. He taught private lessons, started a strings program, and maintained a private violin and cello studio in the Shenandoah Valley. His summers were dedicated to improving his craft at the Bay View Music Conservatory in Petoskey, Michigan, and performing at various music festivals on the East Coast and the Midwest.
Post-graduation, BJ moved to New York City, where he taught music at Bronx Academy High School and also worked as a freelance cellist. His commitment and talent led him to a faculty position at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, where he taught lessons, coached sectionals, and performed in faculty recitals. At Interlochen, BJ experimented with the distinctive combination of singing and playing the cello simultaneously, debuting as a singing cellist at a faculty composers recital in 2011.
BJ’s journey subsequently led him back to the Tidewater area of Virginia. Here, he continued to teach and perform as a solo artist, often collaborating with other local artists. In 2013, he formed a band named BJ Griffin and the Galaxy Groove, and also partnered with long-time friend and pianist, Jason Brown. The BJ Griffin Duo saw the duo create music outside of the classical realm.
As a bandleader, BJ performs almost daily, both locally and out of town. His performances have been highlighted in the Virginian Pilot and several local television stations, with his band serving as the supporting act for artists like Lauryn Hill, Smash Mouth, Sir Sly, Lionel Richie, and most recently, Erykah Badu.
BJ’s ventures extend beyond performing; he is the owner and founder of Galaxy Music Center in Virginia Beach. As an entrepreneur and performer, he aspires to expand the boundaries of musicians of all genres to a wider audience, fostering further opportunities to share the joy of learning and performing music.
Outside of music, BJ is an ardent freediver – a form of underwater diving that relies on breath-holding rather than scuba gear. He is an advocate for the sport, promoting it via his social media platforms, where he shares his dives alongside his original music and covers.
In 2019, BJ released two singles, “Time” and “On My Mind,” that exhibited his unique blend of classical and contemporary music. In July, he released his newest single, “It’s A New Day.”
BJ recently auditioned for America’s Got Talent, marking a significant step in his career. His touching response to Judge Sofia Vergara’s question regarding his timing was, “I’m done holding myself back. I came on to win AGT and achieve my dream of sharing healing through my music with the world.” He spoke of his decision to quit high school football to pursue music, stating, “It was a hard decision because I felt like my parents wanted me to do football. But in my heart, I wanted to be a musician only.”
His stunning performance of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” on his electric cello received a standing ovation from the judges, leading to him advancing to the next round. Judge Sofia Vergara lauded it as a delightful surprise, while Judge Howie Mande declared BJ as his favorite singing contestant. Simon Cowell termed it a memorable audition.
From the streets of Detroit to the stages of Virginia, from the depths of the ocean to the national stage of America’s Got Talent, BJ continues to inspire with his unique blend of music. His journey demonstrates that with talent and hard work, anyone can create their own unique galaxy of groove.