Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cello Beatboxing

Les Baxter once stated that "any new music must be an innovation." The most interesting music always includes subtle changes in style, genre, or sound. Classical scores derive hundreds of variations from one, often very simple, melody. Contemporary artists do the same: They take melodies and add Melisma (also known as runs) or the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes of text in succession, to make their songs more interesting and unique. Creative musicians truly reinvent their music and their genres constantly; reinvention is what makes them so successful.

But what happens when an entirely new genre is created? Often, these innovations are met with hesitancy or rejection. Fortunately, that wasn't the case for Kevin Olusola, whose originality was met with success and popularity. Olusola has fused Classical, Jazz, and Hip-Hop influences to create Celloboxing. Olusola says that Celloboxing combines the "cello, which people see as a pristine instrument, and Hip-Hop, which is kind of dirty and gritty and has that element of edge to it, and fusing them together into something that is ... really inventive and creative." One thing is for certain: It is a style and genre all his own.

Olusola was born with his gifts. At 12, he was the principal Saxophonist and the youngest musician ever in the United States Wind Band. By 15, he was the principal cellist of the Kentucky All-State Orchestra. That year he was accepted into the Kentucky Governor's School of the Arts and to this day is the only young musician to be accepted in two subjects: Cello and Saxophone. He has performed at Carnegie hall - twice - on two different instruments. In 2009, he was the runner up in the "Celebrate and Collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma" International competition at 20, where 90% of his competitors were professional musicians.

Where does celloboxing stem from? According to Olusola, it just makes sense to him. Though it seems natural to Olusola, one doesn't often hear sharp, gritty beatboxing combined with soulful cello music. He discovered his talent for beatboxing while singing with an A' Capella group in boarding school. But it was during a his travel abroad in China did he discover the combination.

Recently, he was featured on NBC's "The Sing Off" as part of the A' Capella quintet, the Pentatonix. His beatboxing helped carry them to 1st place and a $200,000 recording contract.

Keep your eyes out for Olusola. He plans to turn his musical passions into a career in music and production. He plans to produce a series of mixtapes featuring contemporary radio artists and his talents as a musician and Hip-Hop artist. And at only 24, this multitalented individual is sure to make a real impression on the music industry in the near future.


  1. When I saw this post, I was really excited because I saw Kevin Olusola live this past fall. In fact, during the first few weeks of class, when we split up into groups and had to say the most creative thing that we had witnessed in the past year, I mentioned seeing a "beatboxing guy playing a cello" but I had no idea what his name was.

    I went to the David Crowder Band Concert in October, and the band, "Gungor" opened up the concert with a few songs, with Kevin playing cello. Kevin had been playing for awhile normally, and then out of no where started beat boxing. The crowd went insane.

    I agree that Kevin is extremely creative- coming from a girl who can play the piano and that's it, for someone to skillfully play the cello and beatbox while doing it, not missing a single note is incredible to me. Let alone, he's completely reinventing the genre as he goes.

    I had never heard of someone beat boxing and cello playing before I heard him. I kept thinking, "man, how do some people just have all of this natural ability? Talk about God given talent." Extremely creative, and to music lovers around the world, extremely appreciated.

  2. I was overjoyed to hear Kevin playing Marc Summer's Julie-O; it's hands down my favorite cello composition. However, the piece is modern in and of itself, so I don't think his beat boxing is an overwhelmingly novel addition.

    Don't get me wrong, his ability to vocally percuss while playing such a demanding piece is incredible--it's clear that he's an amazingly gifted musician. His proficiency in a variety of instruments shows his musical talent; I just don't know if I'd call celloboxing a completely new idea. People have previously juxtaposed classical instruments with modern hip hop sounds, so while Kevin's ability to do both at once is amazing, is it entirely creative??

  3. I agree with Sarah. While I like what I hear it doesn't strike me as particularly creative. I have a friend who is a professional cellist and has been beatboxing for at least the last 20 years...and I'm almost certain she wasn't the first. I'm guessing that people did percussion with their mouths and played instruments thousands of years ago...back when I was a child.

    One of things I try to dispel in this course is that any act of making something is creative...I suppose that is one use of the word creative...but it is not what we mean by "creativity" in this course. Technical mastery...or being good at something...or even making something beautiful to some...or not necessarily creative...doing something new/novel is...personally I also add that it needs to solve some problem as well...and I'm just not seeing it here.


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