When it comes to breaking boundaries in the world of music, Kevin “K.O.” Olusola is no stranger. He is best known as the beat boxer of the Grammy-winning vocal quintet Pentatonix. Pentatonix’s most recent release, the platinum selling album That’s Christmas to Me, was the #1 holiday album in the country and featured the title track written wholly by the group. The six videos in support of the holiday album – “Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy”, “White Winter Hymnal,” “Winter Wonderland / Don’t Worry Be Happy” ft. Tori Kelly, “Mary, Did You Know?”, “Silent Night” and their original song and title track, “That’s Christmas To Me” – have been viewed more than 64 million times. Pentatonix has also recently released PTX Vol. III, which has already released 4 music videos, yielding more than 45 million views. The group has eclipsed 7 million YouTube subscribers (more than both Avicii and Beyoncé), with more than 800 million cumulative views. Their music video for “Daft Punk” has been viewed more than 100 million times and the medley earned the group their first Grammy win. To date, Pentatonix has released 5 albums, each landing in the top 15 of Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart and cumulatively selling roughly 1.7 million albums.
Kevin grew up in the small town of Owensboro, Kentucky, the son of a Nigerian psychiatrist and a Grenadian nurse. At an early age, Kevin began learning piano, cello and saxophone. He performed at Carnegie Hall twice as soloist on the cello and saxophone and has appeared on NPR’s From The Top. After finishing high school at Phillips Academy Andover, Kevin enrolled in and graduated from Yale University where he was pre-med and majored in East Asian Studies. He spent 18 months in Beijing becoming fluent in Chinese as a part of his Yale fellowship.
While in college, Kevin began developing his “celloboxing” skills and in 2009, he won second place in the “Celebrate and Collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma” international competition. Ma would call Kevin’s celloboxing version of “Dona Nobis Pacem” both “inventive and unexpected.” In 2011, Kevin’s “Julie-O” celloboxing YouTube video was featured by CBS, AOL, Huffington Post andWashington Post, among others. Kevin was also named one of 100 “History Makers in the Making” by NBC’s TheGrio and was hand-chosen by Quincy Jones to represent him in concert at the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival alongside Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea.
On March 10th 2015, Kevin released his first solo album, The Renegade EP. courtesy of RCA Records. The album features classically reimagined versions of popular songs like “All of Me”, “Stay With Me”, and “Heart Attack”, as well as Kevin’s original composition “Renegade”. The album debuted #1 on Billboard Traditional Classical and Classical Crossover charts, in addition to staying #1 on iTunes classical albums for weeks. As Kevin puts it: “I think this is the beginning of a different sound I’m trying to popularize, just like Pharrell did, just like Quincy Jones did. I’m still developing…but I’m excited for the journey.”
Stay tuned for what KO has in store next.