When Brian Justin Crum burst onto the “America’s Got Talent” stage in late June 2016, no one knew what to expect. However, from the first notes of “Somebody to Love” by Queen, his talent shone through, and was acknowledged by the audience and the judges who voted for him throughout the competition. That was not unusual; he had a proven track record in musical productions, charisma, on-stage confidence, and extraordinary vocals. Yet, Brian Justin Crum failed to win “America’s Got Talent” and its all-star version a few years afterwards, and didn’t become a world-renowned recording artist or singer.
Luckily, this did not crush his dreams; he amassed a loyal fan base, and still pursues a career in music. He has held many concerts, released several singles in slightly different genres, and appeared at charity events and in musicals. Brian is also more active on social media now, in a loving relationship, and has two dogs. Here is everything Brian Justin Crum is doing in 2023.
- 1 Early years; life, sexual orientation, and interests
- 2 Acting in musicals before TV show fame
- 3 Brian’s on-screen acting career
- 4 Auditioning for “America’s Got Talent”
- 5 Reaching the finale of “America’s Got Talent”
- 6 Returning to “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”
- 7 Releasing first singles in 2016 and 2017
- 8 Notable songs and music videos from 2019 and 2022
- 9 Concert performances and charity work
- 10 Professional goals
- 11 Dating and family life
- 12 Pets
- 13 Hobbies, tattoos, and interests
Early years; life, sexual orientation, and interests
Brian came out as gay while still in elementary school in Clairemont, however, instead of receiving love and support, he experienced bullying from his peers and classmates. That negatively affected his confidence and some aspirations, including wanting to be in Broadway productions. Thankfully, his mother Barbara Crum, a retired nurse who worked in the Scripps Mercy Hospital and lives in Hillcrest, helped him a lot. She encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a singer as a career choice, which he did at 13, after he’d started performing at seven. As Brian said: ‘she’s always been my rock, my entire life’.
Acting in musicals before TV show fame
Brian attended the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, but left at age 17 to join the run of the Broadway musical “Wicked”, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and who became his mentor soon after. A little-known fact is that Adam Lambert, a runner-up in the eighth season of “American Idol”, was also on the tour. Moreover, Adam also grew up in San Diego, had the same voice teacher, and Brian had looked up to him since he was six years older.
After he moved to New York City, he had notable performances in “Grease” and “Altar Boyz”. At the time, he desired a role in the “Next to Normal” musical, and managed to land one as a replacement for two of the play’s characters, Henry and Gabe.
His most notable performances were as Lucas Beineke in “The Addams Family” tour, and as Galileo Figaro in “We Will Rock You”, a theatrical jukebox musical with two of the original Queen members, Roger Taylor and Brian May. Brian Crum earned a couple of Best Actor in a Musical awards for the latter appearance, and “a Triumph” nickname in the media.
Brian Justin Crum (Lucas Beineke) and Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
Brian’s on-screen acting career
Brian hasn’t had an extensive acting career on TV or in movies, but made notable appearances as Daniel in season 12 of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in 2011, and as Carter in “Break: The Musical” in 2016.
Auditioning for “America’s Got Talent”
Brian Justin Crum moved to Los Angeles, California in 2014 to pursue a solo singing career. He always dreamed of being a pop artist, and loved writing and recording music. Plus, he felt the genre lacked the story-telling aspect aside from performers such as Adele and Sia. With his musical theater history, he knew he could stand out, and as part of his efforts, he auditioned with Queen’s “Somebody to Love” in season 11 of “America’s Got Talent”. He dedicated his performance to his mom, who was in the audience and had never been on camera before that, for being his long-time supporter. He also said that he was bullied for being overweight and gay as a child, and wanted to ‘show all kids that no matter how hard it is, life can be amazing if you work hard, find your passion, and throw yourself into it’.
During the Judge Cuts phase of the competition, he sang “Creep” by Radiohead and received standing ovations from Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and the guest judge George Lopez. The panel of judges sent him to the quarter-finals, instead of Madison Watkins.
Reaching the finale of “America’s Got Talent”
Brian performed Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” in the quarter-finals, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears in the semi-finals, and “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson in the finals. During all three performances, all four regular judges gave him a standing ovation, moreover, his semi-final performance saw the audience vote for him ahead of Kadie Lynn and Calysta Bevier.
Brian then decided to repeat his Judge Cuts performance, and his rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep” sent him to the Top 5. Although he placed ahead of Sal Valentinetti, he only managed to reach fourth place behind Jon Dorenbos, The Clairvoyants, and Grace VanderWaal who won the season. Nonetheless, he was the highest-placing solo singing act in seasons 10 and 11 that didn’t win a Golden Buzzer, a button each judge can use once to send a contestant directly into the quarter-finals or Live Shows.
He revealed “The Edgar Family” was sweet and supportive of him throughout the competition, and ‘thought the world of them’. Additionally, he bonded with Grace VanderWaal behind the scenes and tried to be her guide and emotional support. As for his favorite acts during his season, he chose Linkin’ Bridge and Blake Vogt.
Returning to “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”
After an hiatus from competing, Brian came back to sing “Your Song” by Elton John in “America’s Got Talent: The Champions”. This is an invite-only contest of memorable and high-placed candidates from the last 13 seasons of “America’s Got Talent”. After all four judges stood up to applaud, it was revealed that the audience loved the performance as well, sending him into the top four in his episode. Shortly afterwards, the TV show announced that he proceeded to the finals after winning more votes than the other three competitors.
In the final, Brian performed “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” musical, which was met with glee by the judges and the audience, hence he moved on to the finale. Sadly, that’s where his run ended. His duet with Cristina Ramos of the Queen song “The Show Must Go On” received fewer votes than necessary for a top-five position, and he was eliminated.
Releasing first singles in 2016 and 2017
Brian didn’t sit on his thumbs between the two talent competitions. After his “America’s Got Talent” fourth-place finish, he covered Katy Perry’s song “Rise” with Mary Lambert and Superfruit, a well-known musical duo. Not too long after that, in December 2016, he worked with Prop D Recordings to release a cover of “Show Me Love” by Robyn, which reached second place on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. He also returned for the Christmas special episode of the talent show several days later, and sang “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” with other competitors.
In 2017, Brian Justin Crum attended many events to sing live across the US, and released two singles – “Wild Side” didn’t attract much attention, but “Circles” fared better, released on 19 February 2017, a mere day after his “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” finale episode aired. He told Huffington Post that wanted to ‘tell the story of a past relationship and show what a relationship between two men looked like’. Brian wanted to teach his fans there’s space for a healthy relationship once they discover who they are and own it. He wanted them to learn from his example, because the two were ‘addicted to their toxicity and stuck in a circle’. His ex-boyfriend heard the song, and they both found love afterwards.
Brian also finished five tracks with Frankmusik, a producer known for “Tomorrow’s World”, a 2011 album by Erasure, and two RuPaul albums. The two ‘vibed’ in the studio, and despite him not performing on them, Brian feels that the tracks were duets, because Frankmusik’s work is so unique and recognizable.
Notable songs and music videos from 2019 and 2022
In June and October 2019, Brian released a single and music video for the songs “I & U” and “Bright” respectively. He wrote the former song as the aftermath to “Circles”, including the heartache while things are breaking down, and the devastation after the romance dies and things end. Brian also dedicated it to the emotions he had from the age of six, being told to ‘butch it up’ despite feeling gay, which is a weight he said he carried way too long.
In the post-song interview, he called George Michael his spirit animal, and named Freddie Mercury and Céline Dion as major influences on his sound, songwriting, and self-discovery. In another interview, Brian also cited Whitney Houston as someone who helped him learn to sing.
He took a break from releasing music for roughly three years, then announced a digital release named “Praying” on Apple Music and Spotify in early 2022, and a new single, “Other Side,” which went public on 8 June 2022.
Concert performances and charity work
With his career on the upswing, Brian Crum performed at many places; notable ones in 2019 include singing at a 14 February live Queen tribute ballet show called “Somebody to Love”, and a 28 March National Anthem performance at the opening day game for San Diego Padres. He sang at the Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College in September of that year, too.
In the past, he was a promoter of the MOOVZ app that supports LGBTQ+ people worldwide and participated in their anti-bullying campaign.
Brian was also a big supporter of the Music Modernization Act passed in 2019 in the US. As an independent artist, he felt the pain of not getting his share of the profits that streaming platforms make. According to him, ‘The Music Modernization Act will give the creators a piece of the pie that they deserve, and keep it out of the hands of the people who don’t need it.’
Interestingly, after the talent competition ended, Brian refused to sing “Man in the Mirror” many times, because he’d watched some interviews on HBO, and learned about some backstories and the political statement it was making. In October 2022, he made a memorable appearance at “Rapture”, a circuit dance party and a masquerade ball in Tampa Bay, Florida, which donates its proceeds to the St. Pete Free Clinic.
Brian revealed in 2019 that his first album would be full of personal, relatable stories. He described the sound as ‘Sia and Adele having a baby’. He told DigitalJournal.com in the same year that he would like to collaborate with Lady Gaga, Sia, Demi Lovato, and Britney Spears, and would release an album with covers of those female artists and Barbra Streisand, because he’s ‘a ladyboy’. He made his dreams come true with a digital release of covers entitled “BJC: DIVA” in February 2021, produced under his company’s label, BJC ENT.
Freddie Mercury inspires him in terms of the effect he wants his music to make, saying, ‘You can feel the angst, you can feel the unworthiness that we feel as queer people moving through the world. And he speaks to that so eloquently and so beautifully.’ If he could land a spot, Brian would be a judge in “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, a TV drag queen competition that aired since 2009. He even put it on his to-do list in 2019.
He continues to appear in musical theater and has appeared in productions such as “REVERIE 2.0” at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles in September 2022, and “Uninvited” at The Palm Cabaret in Puerto Vallarta in late January 2023. He occasionally promotes products on his social media, such as from brands SoCal Flower Market, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS NYC, Maison Marvaan, and Marni.
Dating and family life
Brian Justin Crum likely dated Blake Peyrot, a producer and an actor known for musicals such as “Still Waiting in the Wings” and “Big Breakin’”. He called Blake ‘his darling’ in 2015, and revealed that he and his boyfriend were kicked from an Uber ride for kissing in the backseat only moments after the San Diego Pride event in July 2017, but never clarified whether that was Blake.
Since at least March 2021, Brian has dated Samer Fawaz, a psychologist specializing in associate marriage and family therapy.
Brian also repeatedly stated that he’s very sexual in his private life and that it’s something he isn’t ashamed of, which shows in his songs such as “Wild Side” from 2017. It’s the opposite, even; he thinks it’s ‘something people should be proud of and celebrate because sex between consenting adults is a beautiful thing.’
Brian has always been a big animal lover, and once stated, ‘If I see a dog on the street, I have to stop and say hi; I have to have a moment. I have this very specific dog voice. It’s a whole thing, and people judge me, but I don’t care.’ Luckily, he doesn’t have to wait for that opportunity since he has at least two dogs. Fans see the most of Pepper Anne a mixed breed of terrier and chihuahua he adopted on 22 December 2016; she weighs 5lbs or 2.25 kg and ‘looks like Splinter from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”’ to him. He has another dog, Luna, which he got from The Labelle Foundation in 2020.
My baby girl. pic.twitter.com/d66tLKtTCW
— Brian Justin Crum (@BrianJustinCrum) May 18, 2022
Hobbies, tattoos, and interests
Brian Justin Crum loves hiking in nature, and has a big garden at home that is his ‘jungle fantasy and happy place’ where he meditates. He nurtures plants, and even goes as far as sometimes examining the patterns on leaves and how they respond to stimuli. Other physical activities he enjoys include general workouts, especially when doing a full body transformation, and swimming.
Despite being a plant lover, Brian enjoys the fall season and activities with pumpkins. He also visited the Maldives during the summer season, and called it ‘heaven on earth’. Plus, Brian vacationed in Kotor, Montenegro, and popular Mexican spots such as Cenote Oxman and Tulum.
Brian also admitted to being a tattoo addict, and has about 15. Visible ones include that of Pepper Anne, and a heart made of chains on his biceps. He also has a chain with spikes, a crown, and a dragonfly on his forearm, an axe man with a bird on his left shoulder and trapezius, and a big blooming flower on the other shoulder.
One fashion piece he thinks everyone deserves is a pearl necklace.
Finally, Brian urged his fans to vote during the 2020 United States presidential election, and voted for Joe Biden.