Did You Know? – Pentatonix
Pentatonix began with three friends who grew up together: Kirstin “Kirstie” Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, and Scott Hoying at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. Hearing of a local radio show hosting a competition to meet the cast of Glee, they arranged a trio version of “Telephone” and sent it in. Although they did not end up winning the competition, it sparked attention around their school, where the group began performing. After their version of “Telephone” gained attention on YouTube, they continued performing.
Avi Kaplan’s basso profondo vocal range is a distinctive element of Pentatonix’s sound. Hoying and Maldonado both graduated from Martin High School in 2010, Grassi in 2011. Hoying went off to the University of Southern California (USC) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Popular Music, while Maldonado pursued a Musical Theater major at the University of Oklahoma. While at USC, Scott Hoying joined an a cappella group called SoCal VoCals. He found out about The Sing-Off from another member of the group, Ben Bram (also their arranger, producer, and sound engineer) and was encouraged to audition for the show. He persuaded Kirstie Maldonado and Mitch Grassi to join him, but the show required at least four members. Hoying met Avriel “Avi” Kaplan, a highly recognized vocal bass in the a cappella community, through a mutual friend. Then the trio found Kevin Olusola on YouTube, where, one of his videos in which he was simultaneously beatboxing and playing the cello (called “celloboxing”), had gone viral. Kevin was born in Pasadena, California and graduated pre-med from Yale. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese after spending a year studying in China.
The group met the day before the auditions for the third season of The Sing-Off began. They successfully auditioned for the show and eventually went on to win the title for 2011 (season three).
Pentatonix, as suggested by Scott Hoying, is named after the pentatonic scale, a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave. The group believed that the scale’s five notes matched their membership. They replaced the last letter with an ‘x’ to make it more appealing. The quintet derives its influences from pop, dubstep, electro, reggae, hip hop, and classical music.