Each summer, Kentucky high school sophomores and juniors come to The Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) with big hopes and even bigger dreams. One such member of the GSA class of 2004 now serves as inspiration that those big dreams can come true.
Kevin Olusola, who attended Owensboro High School and recently graduated from Yale University with a degree in East Asian Studies, has made the finals in the popular NBC a cappella reality competition “The Sing-Off”. His group, Pentatonix, has performed each week since the show’s third season debut in September. They have managed to impress the expert panel of judges – including Ben Folds of the pop group Ben Folds Five, Boys II Men singer Shawn Stockman and Grammy nominated solo artist Sara Bareilles.
Olusola is passionate about his experience at GSA and says the opportunity to be among other people his age who shared his passion was inspiring.
“GSA opened my mind to other disciplines, and that has helped me so much. For example, when performing on ‘The Sing-Off,’ not only do I beat-box, but I also have to learn and understand choreography,” he said. “The staff at GSA was so encouraging, and the training and exposure to multiple art forms has been so helpful.”
When asked if there was one event or opportunity at GSA that made a significant impact, Olusola said that a master class given by musician Arturo O’Farrill offered a life-changing lesson in how to approach music.
“He told me to just play, and not to think too much. I needed to play what I felt and let the emotion take over, and let myself loose.”
Olusola, like many GSA students who may have limited access to the arts, was thrilled at the caliber of talent and the training available beyond the borders of his hometown.
Right now, Olusola and the other members of Pentatonix are focused on winning the competition, which could nab them a $200,000 Sony recording contract. In addition, Olusola says he is reading up on the music business – something he says he has “a lot to learn about” in the coming weeks and months. He hopes to tour with Pentatonix, and plans to focus on a music career for the immediate future. In addition, he has completed requirements for pre-med at Yale and may work in medicine one day. He also plays the cello and would like to find a way to make the instrument more accessible and appealing to new, younger audiences. In short, he’s very busy.
As for future GSA students who dream big of making it on a show watched by millions of viewers every week, Olusola has one piece of advice: “I would tell them to learn everything they can, learn from other points of view and other disciplines. They will realize just how vital other disciplines are to their craft and will help them in the future.”
The finals for the third season of “The Sing-Off” will air on Monday, November 28 at 8pm/7pm central on NBC. The winner will be determine be viewer votes taken up until the day of the finals; to vote, visit http://www.nbc.com/sing-off/vote/, call 1.877.674.6401, or text 1 to 97979.
Auditions for GSA are in March, 2012, in Louisville, Lexington, Morehead and Murray. Deadline to apply for the summer program is December 31, 2011. Click here to access application and audition information.