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Pentatonix becoming a quartet?

Posted 7:45pm on Friday, May. 12, 2017

It looks like Pentatonix is about to lose one of its voices.

Avi Kaplan, the bass singer for the a cappella group, announced Friday via Facebook that he is “taking a step back” from the group.

In an emotional video, Kaplan, accompanied by his group mates (who all look very solemn) says that the pace of touring was getting to be too much for him and that he wants to spend more time with his family. Kaplan chokes up a couple of times during the announcement. There is a longer text to go with Kaplan’s video.

Kaplan, along with beat-box vocalist Kevin Olusola, was recruited by Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying and Kirstin Maldonado — the Arlington trio that founded the group — to meet the minimum group-size requirement for NBC’s a cappella competition “The Sing-Off.” While attending the University of Southern California, Hoying joined a campus a cappella group called SoCal VoCals, where he met a former member named Ben Bram, who was the vocal arranger for “The Sing-Off.”

Bram suggested that Hoying audition for the show. Hoying, who attended Arlington Martin High School with Grassi and Maldonado and had been performing with them, knew that he wanted his friends to be part of the group. Bram knew Kaplan and recommended the bass singer.

Rick Hoying, Hoying’s father, told the Star-Telegram a couple of years ago that the group found Olusola by looking up “beatboxer” on YouTube.

Pentatonix is scheduled to tour Japan beginning late this month, after which the group has another lengthy tour through the U.S., including a three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl. We’ve received nothing official from RCA Records, but according to TMZ (which, with typical cheekiness, asks if the group is going to change its name to “Tetratonix”), Kaplan will participate in that tour and, after that, he’s done.

Kaplan’s announcement comes on the heels of Billboard magazine speculating about whether Maldonado is about to make a solo move, based on her appearance — under the moniker “kirstin™” — on a track by producer/DJ Helena Legend. But a solo side project does not necessarily mean a departure from the group.

Kaplan — indeed, all the group members — has done work away from the group, as well. He has released a new-agey album, “Sage and Stone” (which shows off his vocal versatility) under the name “Avriel and the Sequoias.” And he does mention his love of nature in the Facebook video.

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