St. Augustine resident Jonny Brenninkmeyer, left, is one of four finalists for "The Voice on Snapchat" out of more than 20,000 entries. The St. Joseph Academy senior is pictured with his classmate, and prom date, Lola Sanchez.
Scrolling through one’s social media feed is not always an idle pursuit. St. Augustine’s Jonny Brenninkmeyer may be less than 24-hours away from turning an evening of random scrolling into the opportunity of a lifetime.
Brenninkmeyer is one of four finalists for “The Voice on Snapchat.”
If Jonny from Florida, as he is known on the series, receives the most votes, he will be featured on an episode of the NBC hit show, flown out to Los Angeles and have an opportunity to audition for the 13th season of “The Voice.”
“I love jazz, I love the classics, but I love the current stuff,” said Brenninkmeyer, a senior at St. Joseph Academy. “I love to sing it all.”
Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app that is hugely popular with young adults. With more than 300 active monthly users and more than 400 million stories shared daily, Snapchat is one of the premier social media networks.
To compete in “The Voice on Snapchat” contestants were instructed to keep their videos shorter than 30 seconds, be shot vertically and sung a cappella, or with live accompaniment. It may not have been a long time to make an impression, but Brenninkmeyer managed to stand out among the more than 20,000 entries that were submitted.
He has survived three rounds of voting, singing a new song each time.
Voting will end on Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., but only if you have the app. Anyone who wants to vote for Jonny from Florida will have to create an account, find “The Voice” among other featured stories and vote for Brenninkmeyer.
Brenninkmeyer, who moved to St. Augustine from Crownsville, Maryland in 2014, is on Gwen Stefani’s team. The 18-year-old sang Adele’s “To Make You Feel My Love” in the finals.
He is competing against three others: Eva, a 16-year-old from Boston who sang Ariana Grande’s “Almost is Never Enough”; Anthony, a 15-year-old from Cincinnati who crooned Zara Larsson’s “Never Forget You” and Ignatious, a 22-year-old from Louisiana who sang Luke James’ “I Want You.”
The St. Joseph Academy senior may have a built in advantage: His video is the first voters see.
“It’s been really cool. I’m relatively new to St. Augustine, I haven’t been as immersed in the community as others have, because it’s such a small town. I told a couple of friends of mine and it spread around school. I went to soccer and a friend who went to St. Augustine and another who went to Pedro (Menendez) said ‘Man, this is cool’ and texted it to their friends.”
Brenninkmeyer’s comment may be music to the ears of producers at NBC.
Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported NBCUniversal announced a multi-year partnership with Snapchat to produce content based on NBC shows for its audience that is rich with the demographic sweet spot for networks: Millennials. “The Voice on Snapchat” is the first partnership and currently in its second season.
In December, Brenninkmeyer said he was sifting through his Snapchat stories when he saw “The Voice” was accepting submissions for “The Voice on Snapchat.” On a lark, he sent in a couple of videos and didn’t think too much else about it. In February, he received an email saying his videos were picked to be on Gwen Stefani’s team.
That Brenninkmeyer had his video selected by the former No Doubt lead singer is not a surprise to Carolyn Brown. She has been his voice coach for years and is the director of the Music Ministry Club at St. Joseph Academy.
The first time Brown listened to Brenninkmeyer sing “Good Good Father,” a contemporary Christian song by Chris Tomlin, she knew she was listening to a gifted singer.
“There is a certain gift with their talent that can touch you and I thought, right away, ‘Wow. Out of a lot of people I’ve heard. He has it,’” Brown said. “I was excited to take him on as a student, excited to see him progress and have more opportunities. I’m proud of him.”
Johnny is the fourth of seven Brenninkmeyer children. He sang with Brown at his older sister’s wedding in January. She described him as someone who is adept at using his musical gift in service to others.
“With him, it’s really impressive that he has developed enough skills that he can accompany himself with piano or guitar. It’s a skill that you acquire, but it’s being naturally attuned to what good music sounds like, what good accompaniment sounds like, it’s more artistic than it is a science.”
Brenninkmeyer has been accepted at The College of Holy Cross and plans to major in international studies. But, before he heads up to Massachusetts, he wouldn’t mind in the slightest to make a detour in Los Angeles.
“I loved to sing since I was a little kid,” Brenninkmeyer said. “My parents really loved music. I started off doing musicals when I was a little kid. I kept singing. I taught myself guitar and I taught myself piano. I wouldn’t call it a talent. It’s a gift from God. I’m doing whatever I can to bring him back glory.”