CHICAGO -- BJ The Chicago Kid said his performance of the national anthem before President Barack Obama's farewell speech Tuesday at McCormick Place was "one of the coolest moments of my life."
"Oh my God, incredible," the 32-year-old singer-songwriter told the Tribune Wednesday. "It means everything to me as a fellow South Sider."
BJ, who was born Bryan James Sledge and raised on the South Side, said a representative from Obama's administration reached out to his team several days ago about performing at the farewell address.
"It was the hardest secret I've ever had to keep ever," he said.
BJ said he met Obama for the first time after the hourlong speech and they exchanged "very fast words."
"He's like, 'You sounded pretty good.' I was like, 'Thank you,'" he said.
The performance will likely bring more fame to BJ, who garnered three Grammy nominations last month, including best R&B album for "In My Mind." The Grammys are set to air Feb. 12 on CBS. In the meantime, BJ headed back to Los Angeles on Wednesday to record new music.
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who spent part of his childhood in Evanston, also performed Tuesday with members of the Chicago Children's Choir.
The celebrities in the McCormick Place audience included "Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes, who grew up in the south suburbs; actress Sharon Stone; Bill Nye "the science guy"; and comedian Baratunde Thurston.
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