If you’re a fan of Pentatonix, you’ve probably seen the popular a cappella act at the Sprint Center, Providence Medical Center Amphitheater or opening for Adam Lambert at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. But fans will see the Grammy-winning group as never before when it headlines Tuesday at Starlight Theatre.
Kevin Olusola, beatboxer, vocalist and occasional cello player, says that of all the Pentatonix tours, the group is most excited about this one.
On the previous tour, he says, they decided to switch things up and add choreography. Though it was fun, it distracted fans from what they came to see.
Pentatonix fans love the “Evolution” portion of the group’s shows – such as “Evolution of Beyoncé,” “Evolution of Michael Jackson” and “Evolution of Music” – in which several songs are creatively worked into a mega medley. Now, the group is doing “Evolution of Ariana Grande.”
The group members are big fans of Grande. “Talk about vocals for days – just absolutely incredible,” Olusola says. “There’s so many big songs. It was a challenge to do her songs, they’re all hard, but ‘Evolution of Music’ was the most difficult for us because they weren’t songs we all know naturally. Some of them require different vocal styles from the music we normally do.”
“It’s one of our absolute favorite songs,” Olusola says. “We had put it off for years because we didn’t know if was possible for a five-person vocal group to replicate such a massive sound. But we said, ‘Let’s at least try.’ It’s cool how the fans reacted. Our fan base spans so many decades.”
New to the Pentatonix fold is Matt Sallee, who replaces Avi Kaplan, who left in 2017. Olusola says Sallee brings a particular joy and spirit to the group.
“It’s so incredible when he sings – when he dances,” he says. “We feel we’re already a pretty joyful band, but he adds so much to that. He’s like a brother to me. We have a moment onstage, a bass and beatbox duo moment.”
In the midst of nonstop touring and recording with Pentatonix, Olusola also is furthering his solo act, known as KO, which he started in 2015 with “The Renegade EP.”
“I’m ever growing and evolving, something I’ve been working on since 2015,” he says. “It feels like I’ve been working on it all my life.” Though he started out beatboxing and playing cello, he learned to arrange and produce with Pentatonix and carried that over to his solo career.
“I realized I had something to say,” he says, which he explains is different from the music of Pentatonix. That’s been the case every time someone from the group releases a side project. “It’s cool to finally understand myself and where my heart lies.”
His latest single is a cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” a song that especially resonates with him. Simone is one of his favorite artists.
“She’s one of those people who felt art needs to reflect the times. That’s one of the reasons I chose the song,” he says. “From my situation as an African American person in the U.S., people may look at me and think a certain thing without getting to know me. I’m of Nigerian and Caribbean heritage. I went to Yale. What you see is not what you think you’re getting. And I hope that’s how my music continues to hit people.”
Pentatonix performs Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Starlight Theatre. Rachel Platten and Citizen Queen open at 7:30 p.m. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $29.50-$129.50 through kcstarlight.com.