What You Don't Know About Pentatonix

Pentatonix is one of the most popular a cappella groups in the world. In fact, they might be the only a capella group you can even name. And no, The Barden Bellas don't count. Since winning NBC's competition singing show "The Sing-Off," Pentatonix has been entertaining audiences with their musical stylings completely made by their own voices — no instruments (in case you didn't know what a cappella means).

The group consists of five singers: Kirstin Maldonado, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kevin Olusola, and Matt Sallee (once Avi Kaplan, but more on that later), and their reward for winning "The Sing-Off" was $200,000 dollars and a recording contract. After being dropped from their record label, the group surged in popularity across the world thanks to their YouTube Channel, and now the a capella singers tour nationally and internationally.

It's likely you're most familiar with their Christmas music, or their stunning rendition of "Hallelujah," but there's a lot more to this Grammy-winning group of musicians. Here's what you don't know about Pentatonix.

Three members have known each other since they were kids

It's easy to wonder how Pentatonix started. How did five immensely talented singers find each other? They didn't hold open auditions like college groups, and they weren't thrown together by Simon Cowell like One Direction or Fifth Harmony. Pentatonix began long before they were competing on NBC.

Kirstin Maldonado, Scott Hoying, and Mitch Grassi have known each other since childhood. "Three of us grew up together, so we've been best friends our whole lives," Hoying told entertainment.ie. The group met their original bass, Avi Kaplan, through a mutual friend, but still needed a fifth member to compete on "The Sing-Off."

YouTube has served Pentatonix well throughout its career, and it began when a video of Kevin Olusola celloboxing went viral. The group contacted him to join, an offer which he turned down initially, but after some convincing, Olusola joined, giving the group enough members to officially compete on "The Sing-Off." All five members met and rehearsed just one day before their audition. "From that moment on, it's just been crazy," Hoying said. We agree, their rise to fame has been crazy.

Scott Hoying was on Star Search

Scott Hoying is no stranger to competition shows. The one who first gathered his friends to audition for "The Sing-Off," Hoying's first stint on reality television happened years ago when he competed on "Star Search" in 2004. Hoying took to Twitter to reminisce on his time on the show with fellow competitor and "American Idol" alum David Archuleta, another one of the only people to actually become famous from a singing competition show.

Post-competition shows, Hoying skyrocketed to fame and helped the group transition from performing covers to writing original music. "Finally, we were like, 'Wait, this is the moment.' We've won a Grammy, we've had a platinum, we've done a hundred covers. Now it's time to become a true artist and write our own music," he told Cincinnati Magazine of their shift from singing covers to writing their own songs.

Through the group's career, Hoying has emerged as the unofficial lead singer. And while many fans ascribe him this appellation, Hoying gives his group members the credit they deserve for their talent and efforts. "What's so awesome about Pentatonix is that every single member contributes to every song, so Pentatonix becomes the star instead of the lead singer," he said. He's right. Pentatonix is awesome.

Kirstin Maldonado wanted to be on Broadway

Music has always been a big part of Kirstin Maldonado's life. The soprano for Pentatonix, Maldonado began voice lessons and community theatre when she was eight years old, and she "fell in love with it," she told AsianFusionGirl. She went on to major in Musical Theatre Performance at the University of Oklahoma, with hopes of one day starring on Broadway.

Maldonado's childhood friend Scott Hoying asked her to join his a cappella group to audition for "The Sing-Off," which she obviously accepted, and it served as a springboard for her musical career. The songstress has since released music as a solo artist, along with the work she does for Pentatonix.

Maldonado's childhood dream came true, too. In 2018, she made her Broadway debut as Lauren in "Kinky Boots." "I've dreamed of being on Broadway since I was a little girl, so it's really exciting to fulfill my two dreams," she told Playbill.

Mitch Grassi is a huge fashion fan

Music isn't Mitch Grassi's only passion. He's also got an affinity for fashion, which he discovered through the internet. "The internet was my gateway into the world. It was my way of finding culture," he told The Cut. In the same interview, he shared his love for one fashion house in particular – Balenciaga, and he ended it by stating his desire to collaborate with a designer one day.

The members of Pentatonix should teach a master class on manifestation, because like Kirstin Maldonado turning her Broadway dreams into reality, Grassi was given the opportunity to work with Balenciaga after expressing his hope to do so. The singer's voice was featured on a Twitter campaign for the brand, per Vogue. If they do teach a master class in manifestation, we'll be the first to sign up.

Grassi has to be a true creative, using both music and fashion to express himself. "I always have the fashion in mind when I am writing the music, because to me they go hand-in-hand," he said of his two passions.

Their original bass launched a solo career

Pentatonix began with Avi Kaplan as their bass. But in 2017, Kaplan announced his departure from Pentatonix, citing difficulty keeping up with the fast pace of the group as his reason for leaving.

The split was amicable, though. "All the things that we've accomplished, all the music that we've made, and the people that we've touched with that music, it far surpasses anything I could have dreamed for my life," he said in a video.

Kaplan continued making music when he left, which he had said he intended to do when announcing his departure. The singer released an album in 2020, which touched on the struggles he faced when he left the group. "I had just left a very successful career, and in general I had a lot of hurt and a lot of healing to do, so that's where a lot of it came from," he told Billboard of his album.

Matt Sallee is a praise and worship singer

After Avi Kaplan departed, Pentatonix searched for a fifth member to round out their arrangements. The bass who joined them is Matt Sallee, a former member of Pitch Slapped (amazing name, if you ask us), a Berklee College of Music a cappella group. Sallee first joined Pentatonix for the 2017 holiday season, per College A Cappella, and eventually became a permanent member of the group. Sallee expressed his excitement to be joining the group via Instagram, saying, "I'm so blessed and humbled to work with a group of people I have looked up to for such a long time. Dreams do come true people!"

The group was just as honored to have Sallee join. Scott Hoying, in an interview with Popsugar, said of the talent, "we haven't even needed to give him that much advice because he was just born to do this ... I feel like we really hit the jackpot with him."

When he's not performing with Pentatonix, Sallee is performing with his praise and worship group, Expression 58, per Christian Headlines.

Kevin Olusola was a member of the Yale Symphony Orchestra

In addition to his stellar beatboxing skills, Kevin Olusola is an accomplished classical musician. Olusola has taken quite the path to land where he is today, winning international prizes, being featured in elite publications, and covering popular songs on his cello for a number one album. "I think this is the beginning of a different sound I'm trying to popularize," he told Yamaha of his unique work on the cello.

While attending Yale University, Olusola was a member of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, where he developed his celloboxing, per the Orchestra's website. He also credits his time at Yale as a period where he was able to grow as an artist and a person.

"I'm thankful for the roots that I have to Yale in terms of just being really open minded about the way you can do things, because I think had I not had that, and thought there was only one way of doing things, then I think I would have never sought these other opportunities," he said. We're thankful for his roots, too. Who knew celloboxing is so awesome?

Two members have their own music group

Everyone in Pentatonix fully supports the other members in their endeavors outside the group. From Broadway performances to praise and worship groups, the Pentatonix members keep plenty busy when they're not singing a cappella. "We've always had a rule. Since everyone has their own solo project, even from the very beginning, our rule has been that everyone can do whatever they want but, Pentatonix always comes first," Scott Hoying told Paper.

For Hoying and fellow member Mitch Grassi, doing what they want takes form as a group called Superfruit. The two friends began filming videos for YouTube showcasing their relationship and noticed their singing was performing better than any other content they were creating. From that observation, Superfruit was born.

The two are not only longtime friends and band members, they were a couple for a short time. And though they're not romantically involved anymore, they maintain a very close friendship. "It's just nonstop words and catchphrases and inside jokes one after another and we're constantly laughing," Grassi told Billboard of their current relationship. Judging by their YouTube videos, we'd be constantly laughing with them, too.

The group kept their Pitch Perfect 2 cameo a secret

Less than a year after Pentatonix won "The Sing-Off," the movie "Pitch Perfect," starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson hit theaters, giving audiences a satirical look inside the world that is college a cappella singing. The film went on to have two sequels, the second's release coinciding with Pentatonix's rise to international fame, making them an obvious choice for a cameo in "Pitch Perfect 2."

After a Twitter campaign to feature Pentatonix in the movie and a pitch from "The Sing-Off" arranger Deke Sharon, the "Pitch Perfect 2" producers gave the group a spot in the film as a group competing against the group formed by the main characters, The Barden Bellas.

Pentatonix was thrilled to join the movie, and told Entertainment Weekly they were happy to sing something stylistically similar to their arrangements on "The Sing-Off." "It was kind of fun to go back where we started and do it up a bit cheesier than usual," Mitch Grassi said of their performance, which the group managed to keep under wraps. If Pentatonix can keep a secret in Hollywood, they're definitely meant for stardom.

The group has busy personal lives

When they're not touring, creating killer a cappella arrangements, spreading Christmas spirit, or winning awards, the members of Pentatonix are enjoying time with their loved ones. The group gathered to celebrate the marriage of group member Kevin Olusola and his wife Leigh Weissman, per People, and the two became parents in 2021, which Olusola shared on his Instagram account.

Kirstin Maldonado, who is engaged as of this writing, is taking a long engagement this time around, after having previously broken off an engagement to another man. "Being engaged is such a beautiful next step, and I don't mind being in that state because it's just so wonderful and happy," she told People of her current relationship status.

Maldonado isn't the only group member engaged. Matt Sallee announced his engagement earlier this year via Instagram, and previously celebrated his then-girlfriend's acceptance to Southwestern Law School on Twitter. While Scott Hoying isn't engaged or married, he and his boyfriend have been together for quite some time, and stay busy traveling and attending movie premieres, per Hoying's Instagram.

They took French lessons to prepare for a song

If you couldn't tell from their incredible resumes and lists of talents other than singing, the Pentatonix members are artists in the truest sense of the word. They've made a cappella mainstream, arranged dozens of covers, written their own music, and have taken foreign language lessons to better sing a song.

To cover the song "Papaoutai," Pentatonix enlisted the help of a French teacher to help them better understand the language and improve their singing. The group detailed the struggles they faced during their lessons to Entertainment Weekly, noting the language's difficulty.

Their artistic endeavors have undoubtedly made them better musicians, but their opportunities have grown them as people, and as friends, as well. "Now that we understand each other so well, we understand how to make things work because we know each person's dynamic and character," Kevin Olusola said of their relationship as a band. If they ever hold open auditions to expand their group, let us know.

The group is worth a lot of money

If your only frame of reference for a cappella life post-college is The Tonehangers performing "Booty Wurk" in "Pitch Perfect," it's easy to wonder how anyone can make a living performing music without instruments. The members of Pentatonix have proven that it's not only possible to make a living, but you can become a multimillionaire doing it.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, the group together has an estimated net worth of $40 million, the four remaining original members boasting $8 million each. It's not reported how the $40 million is divided among the group, but they've earned it through their album sales, national and international tours, YouTube engagement, and televised Christmas specials, among other money-making opportunities. As individuals, the group members are likely earning more through their aforementioned side gigs. After being dropped from their record label, the group got the last laugh. We're certain Pentatonix is grateful for their success, and we are, too.