‘AGT’ finalist Brian King Joseph struggles with neuropathy, a condition that causes him to lose feeling in his hands and feet. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Brian about how he deals with the pain, the finale, and more!
Brian King Joseph , 27,is one of the most talented electric violinists we’ve ever seen. Week in and week out on America’s Got Talent, Brian has blown us away with his unique and moving performances. Brian has rightfully earned a spot in the season 13 finale.
HollywoodLife chatted with Brian after the semi-finals about what’s ahead. He admitted that Simon Cowell saying he could win the whole competition “really motivates” him to keep pushing on. Brian suffers from neuropathy, a painful nerve disease that takes away feeling from his hands and feet. Despite the “excruciating pain” he feels while playing the violin, he’s not giving up on his dream. Check out our Q&A with Brian below.
First off, what’s your reaction to Simon saying you could win the competition, especially now since we’re so close to the finale?
Brian King Joseph: Right, my reaction to Simon saying that I could win this whole competition is to me, a reaffirmation of my fight, and my struggle, and how much I’ve been going through to get here. Because I came here to win, and to hear Simon say that, it really motivates me and encourages me to do just exactly that. I feel like Simon knows, right? He knows what’s best, right? I think to me, it’s just another challenge I’ve always been looking forward to ever since the audition. That’s what I came here to do, and to hear him say that means that I’m that much closer, and I just need to work so hard, and I will, to get it.
How did you know about choosing the song that was right for your semi-finals performance? I mean, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is not what I would have thought could be played on the violin.
Brian King Joseph: Well, ever since I started doing this on YouTube and releasing videos, hip hop has always been one of my favorite things to do, and people always really, really love when you take a classical instrument and you take it to hip hop. But not just play it classically, but to really play it as if it belongs in the song. As if it’s hip hop. And to me, I really wanted to come out in the semi-finals, I wanted to finally show that side of me to people. I think I’m a very versatile violinist, and the first round I did Major Lazer EDM, reggae-type song, and the second round I did a straight Chainsmokers smash EDM anthem, and then I did the Fall Out Boy rock song. Essentially I did that last week, this week, me and the music team, who is amazing by the way, the music team, the production team over there, we huddled together and I said, “Hip hop?” And they said, “What do you want to do next round?” It seems like it would be out of the box, but I think that’s what I’m all about, going out of the box and making it relatable, and I have a lot of fun doing that. I was really thrilled with being able to show that side of me because I really do love playing high energy music, whether it be hip hop, EDM, rock, or opera or anything else.
Do you already have a plan for the finals?
Brian King Joseph: I’ve got something pretty killer up my sleeve.
You’ve been very open this season about your neuropathy. How is it treating you now as you continue to practice leading up into the semi-finals and the finals?Brian King Joseph: A lot of dealing with my neuropathy… actually, all of the entire part of dealing with my neuropathy is mental. A lot of mind over pain, a lot of mind over matter. In this competition, I definitely have had to pull myself up from seriously hard days when it comes to pushing my body through, and then doing it again the next day and the next day. But, for me, I believe very much in just pushing through it. I think that’s one of the only ways to move on with life with the disease that I have. Because, like I said before, I think a big reason why I’m able to still play and keep that muscle memory is because I keep doing it. I don’t want to let that die. The thing is, doing that causes me a lot of pain because I’m literally holding my nerves back from going completely numb, and I’m trying to deal with them, but they’re fighting against me every step of the way, and it’s excruciating pain, but the adrenaline that I can get while I’m playing helps you push through that you know, when people are out there. The whole time I’m practicing I’m sitting there and hurting, and the night before this [last week’s] performance, I couldn’t even move. It was like eight o’clock I think, I was in bed, and I couldn’t do anything anymore. I ate dinner in bed that night because I couldn’t even get up to go get some. I had my girlfriend, obviously, supporting me, she’s the best. Even in that moment, I’m happy thinking about what I’m going to do, and hoping that it will go off well and just being positive. You really have to be positive going through this. Sorry, excuse me. You really have to be though, you really have to be, because like I said, it’s mind over pain, and you have to be in a right spot, so even though it’s been hard, I’ve had the support of my girlfriend, the AGT staff, the production. They’re all so nice. They’re all so understanding. They’re really helping me through, and maybe that’s all you need sometimes, is just a little help from your friends.
What would it mean for you to win AGT? I think you would be the first violinist.
Brian King Joseph: Oh yeah, I think you’re right. It would mean everything to me do win America’s Got Talent. Not only will it give me the platform to be able to share my music with the entire world, not just America, but everyone. I feel like it will also help inspire people to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be. Honestly, I’ve never had an opportunity to be able to possibly make money and have a Vegas show and have steady work. And to have all of that in front of me gives me hope. Because if I can win, then I can better take care of myself. I don’t have health insurance right now. It’s hard for me to see doctors, or even look into cutting edge technologies to see if I can possibly manage my pain better, or maybe even look for a cure. For me, it means the chance to live my life. The opportunity to live my life and share with others.