Who Is BJ The Chicago Kid?

BJ the Chicago Kid in 2016
Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

BJ the Chicago Kid performs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans.

Motown's Grammy-nominated artist sets the stage for President Obama's farewell speech.

So who was the young man who delivered the soulful rendition of the national anthem preceding President Obama’s farewell address this evening (Jan. 10)? It was Windy City native son BJ the Chicago Kid.

The singer-songwriter’s shining moment follows on the heels of his scoring not one but three Grammy Award nominations in December for his 2016 Motown debut album In My Mind: Best R&B Performance (“Turnin’ Me Up”), Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Woman’s World”) and Best R&B Album. As the countdown begins to the 59th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 12, BJ is busy promoting his recently released mixtape, The Lost Files: Cuffing Season, and new video for his homage to Marvin Gaye, “Uncle Marvin.”

And although he lives in Los Angeles now, as he told Billboard last year, “Chicago is part of my fiber. I keep it with me at all times.”

Here are a few more insights about BJ the Chicago Kid:

Born Bryan J. Sledge, he honed his supple tenor singing background for Mary Mary, Usher, Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott.

He has written songs for Lalah Hathaway and Joe; has also worked with Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Anderson Paak, Kehlani, The Killers and Anthony Hamilton.

BJ first came to national notoriety with his guest feature on ScHoolboy Q’s Grammy-nominated 2014 hit “Studio,” which peaked at No. 10 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Debut album In My Mind features Kendrick Lamar (on the track “The New Cupid”), fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper (“Church”) and Big K.R.I.T. (“Resume”). Of the album’s revivalist feel, BJ the Chicago Kid told Billboard, “My sound comes from church, but the stories come from actual personal experience, being out there in the streets living life.”

He calls singer/songwriter/producer Raphael Saadiq his mentor/big brother: “He’s always pulling my coattails, helping me.”


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