By Hannah Naschef · Daily Trojan
Posted Yesterday at 9:23 pm in Lifestyle
Scott Hoying, formerly a pop music major and self-professed “choir
nerd” at USC, began his freshman year like any other college
student with an interest in vocal music: His days were filled with
school, friends and a whole lot of singing. Naturally, Hoying quickly
found his home at USC in its a cappella choir community, where he
joined the SoCal VoCals.
Hoying had no way of knowing, but at the time he was on the cusp
of stardom, soon to become a founding member of the a capella group
Pentatonix, a small group of five talented musicians, began its journey
in 2011, when Hoying and two of his close friends from high school,
Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado, decided to audition for The Sing
Off. Hoying had heard about the show through friends in the the SoCal
VoCals who had previously competed on it. He then began contemplating
the start of an a cappella group of his own.
“I thought it would be cool to have a little group where we
could go and belt it out, unlike most groups that have around 16 people,”
The group began with only three singers, but following the urgings
of former VoCal, Ben Bram, Pentatonix added a bass and a beatboxer
to its numbers. Finding a strong bass, Avi Kaplan, was relatively
simple, but it longer to find the perfect beat boxer.
The group discovered Kevin Olusola online. Olusola had posted a viral
video on YouTube where he showed off his beatboxing skills while simultaneously
playing the cello.
“When we came across the video, we thought he was unbelievable.
His musicianship was unreal,” Hoying said. “There was
just something special about Kevin.”
After calling Olusola and offering to pay for his flight to Los Angeles
for the show’s audition, the group was complete. Though some
of them barely had time to get to know one another, the five singers
came together musically in their audition, performing an interpretation
of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.”
That one audition kicked off an adventure through the show that has
led the a cappella group to even greater things. The group went on
to win Season 3 of The Sing Off and has taken the world of a cappella
by storm, releasing an EP, touring the country and producing a number
of hit cover songs on YouTube.
“That investment in Kevin’s plane ticket ended up being
worth it all because our experience was just incredible,” Hoying
During its time on the show, Pentatonix performed hit songs such as
Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” Usher’s “OMG”
and even a Britney Spears medley, but one highlight of the show that
Hoying mentioned was performing “The Dog Days Are Over”
by Florence and the Machine during the competition’s semifinals.
“In the week leading up the performance, we literally felt like
we were at the end of our ropes,” Hoying said. “Our dress
rehearsal was a total disaster, but in the actual performance, everything
came together and it was the most magical moment.”
The group’s successful performance in the semifinal secured
Pentatonix a slot in the finale and a chance to win the show’s
grand prize: $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony.
“I’ll never forget it — it was our best performance
on the show, the audience went wild and I knew we were going to the
finale,” Hoying said.
Since its big win, Pentatonix has released two EP’s, PTX Volume
1 and PTXmas, appeared on various television shows, performed around
the country during its sold-out fall 2012 tour and continued to post
covers of hit songs on YouTube.
The group is now planning to kick off the new year with an even bigger
tour lineup for 2013, adding bigger performance venues, set pieces,
lights and choreography.
“The audience can expect a total upgrade to everything we have
done in the past,” Hoying said. “We’re definitely
taking things to the next level and it’s exciting.”
Along with its 2013 tour, the group is also working on its second
EP, which will feature more original songs by various members of the
“Our goal is to transition from doing mostly covers to mostly
originals with the occasional cover,” Hoying said.
Though no release date has been set, the album is projected to come
out early in the year.
The upcoming Pentatonix tour will kick off Thursday, Jan. 24 with
a concert at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood. After making its way
through the rest of California, the group will be back performing
in Southern California at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Jan. 30.
Before heading out onto the road, Hoying — still very much a
Trojan — had an opportunity to return to USC and perform at
USC Program Board’s Variety Hour last week.
As Pentatonix wowed the audience with a brief set, Hoying got the
chance to reflect on where it all began for him.
“It’s so cool to come back and have all my friends at
USC come support us and talk about memories,” Hoying said. “It
means so much to know they are still supporting me, even though I
don’t go to the school anymore.
Hoying and Pentatonix now have the world as their oyster, but Hoying
said as he and his group continue to push the boundaries of a cappella
music, he will never forget his Trojan family — a family who
introduced him to a cappella and to opportunities that would change