Kirstie Maldonado Of Pentatonix Talks Music!
We recently spoke with the singer about her rise to fame, biggest inspirations and what it's like to be the only girl in a five-piece group!
When Kirstie Maldonado was very young, she remembers listening to her mom's favorite music and telling her mom she wanted to be a singer, too.
"I feel like she didn't really believe me until I sang at her wedding," Kirstie said. "Then everyone was like, 'Does she do singing or voice lessons?' and my mom was like, 'Uh, no.'"
The experience encouraged her mom to place her in voice lessons when she was eight years old. Kirstie's voice instructor introduced her to musical theater.
"I absolutely fell in love with it, and ever since then, that's everything that I want to do," she said. "I can't see myself doing anything else. I knew I at least had to try or I would really regret it."
Kirstie was in her high school choir throughout all of high school. While she had sung some a cappella in school, she never really got interested in the genre until she started singing a cappella with her friends Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi.
Kirstie had known Scott since she was 9 years old, and met Mitch in freshman year of high school. The three were in the same grade and did theater together, spent time with the same groups of friends and shared most of the same AP classes.
"Scott, Mitch and I formed a little trio for a radio contest and put something together," she said. "We ended up singing at a choir concert and it got a lot of attention so we just kept doing it."
Scott and Kirstie were in their first year of college when the trio decided to audition for the NBC a cappella singing competition The Sing-Off.
Before the audition, they decided to add a bass and beatbox voice to fill out their sound.
They found the missing members of their sound in Avi Kaplan and Kevin "K.O." Olusola.
The group met their vocal bass Avi through a mutual friend, Ben Bram, who later became the group's producer.
"Avi was really well known in California in the a cappella genre for amazing bass," Kirstie said. "Ben introduced Scott and Avi together, and Scott thought he was perfect."
Finding the right beat boxer for the group was a little tougher. The group tried singing with a few beat boxers before they found their perfect match.
"What's kind of fate about the entire thing is that when we were looking for someone, Kevin's cello beat boxing video became really viral on YouTube," Kirstie said. "We just kind of stumbled across him and thought he was so amazing and so cool."
They messaged him telling them they were planning go audition for The Sing-Off and asked him if he wanted to join them. He agreed.
"I think originally it was just a fun thing to do where we could all hang out and see each other, and we all we obviously loved singing, so that just took off," she said. "The second we all sang together as a five person group, it literally was magical."
On the day before the audition, each of the five members flew in from different locations. They had never practiced together.
"The day before the audition we all got down and were able to sing through the song and it honestly was just amazing how well it flowed together," Kirstie said. "We had no idea, it could have been horrible."
The group picked their name, Pentatonix, as a play on the pentatonic scale.
"It's the most widely recognized scale in all cultures," she said. "There are five of us in the group, and we thought the name was kinda cool."
Kirstie Maldonado is the only girl in Pentatonix, but she said she's never felt like the odd girl old.
"I'm usually fortunate enough to get my own dressing room and stuff like that, but besides that there's never really any gender segregation," she said. "We're just like a giant family. That's how we treat each other. As long as I have a mirror and a place to change I'm golden."
Being the only girl in the group also gives Kirstie a uniquely girl power perspective.
"Maybe it's more prevalent now because of social media, but I feel like young girls nowadays really underestimate their potential and what they can do," she said. "I really want to stress so deeply how important it is to believe in yourself and really go for your dreams."
She explained that sometimes circumstances can bring people down and make it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that's when it's the most important to believe.
"I know it sounds so cliché to say I stress girl power a lot, but I really do think people can do a lot more than they think they can," she said. "I always want them to strive for their best."
Since joining together and winning first place on The Sing-Off, the group have gone on to have a massive following, including more than 5 million subscribers on YouTube!
"Every time someone recognizes one of us it's so surreal," she said. "This is something I've always dreamed of doing. We all started off as underdogs in a cappella, and just to see how far we've come it just makes us all really proud. Every opportunity has been more amazing than the last "
One of those opportunities was to appear on the classic children's show Sesame Street.
"We were onset and all the puppets and characters stayed in character the entire time," Kirstie said. "It was overwhelming in a happy way. I feel like that's a child show that you watched all the time, and you imagine being on the show, and it was really cool to do that finally."
After all of the hard work the group has put in, Kirstie said it is amazing to see it pay off.
"We feel really blessed to all have come together and be doing this," she said.
Curious about Pentatonix and Kirstie Maldonado? Check out their social pages below! And if you're passionate about singing, share your talents with us at SweetyHigh.com!