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Towering in five-inch heels above a screaming, sold-out crowd, Kirstie Maldonado moves in sync with her fellow Pentatonix (PTX) band members as their a cappella acrobatics leave the crowd simultaneously mesmerized and hysterical.
The sole female vocalist of the Grammy-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, Maldonado is known for her eight-part harmonies, rock and roll style, and down-to-earth nature that has made her beloved by both the group’s fans fans and her fellow band members—Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kevin Olusola, and Avi Kaplan.
Raised by a single mother, Maldonado found her love of music during their long car rides together; by the time her eighth birthday rolled around, Maldonado had convinced her mother to enroll her in voice lessons. Her performing résumé only grew from here: eight years touring with Theatre Arlington, classical training, Texas All-State Choir, show choir, dance, enrolling as a theatre major at the University of Oklahoma, and in 2011, forming Pentatonix.
The acclaimed a cappella group was originally put together by Hoying, a long-time friend of Maldonado, who hoped to compete on The Sing-Off, NBC’s a cappella answer to American Idol. Despite the group meeting for the first time less than 24 hours before the audition, the quintet went on to win the show’s third season and soon after, began gaining international attention as their viral song covers began changing the way how the public viewed a cappella. Among my personal favorites are “The Wizard of Ahhhs,” “Royals,” and “Evolution of Music.”
In the past four years, the members of Pentatonix have leveraged their YouTube success to create opportunities for themselves off the platform, including a Grammy win for their futuristic cover of “Daft Punk,” international tours, a Pitch Perfect 2 cameo, and released this week, their documentary On Our Way Home.
As a group, Pentatonix’s accomplishments are incredible, and their future as musicians is limitless. But it’s the group’s close-knit relationships and hilarious personalities that have launched an almost Beatlemania-like fandom among the group’s audience. It’s through this dedicated following that Maldonado has come to shine as a role model to young girls interested in pursuing music—and pursuing it their own way. In a past interview with Asian Fusion Girl, the singer stated: “You need to find your best self. I want people to see that I’m just a girl who went for her dreams. I want to inspire people to tear down their walls, especially for teenage girls. So many people don’t believe in themselves; people are worth so much more than what social media shows.”
Kirstie, from your incredible vocals to your quirky personality and infinite love of of your pup, thank you for being such an incredible example of strength, perseverance, and courage to young women around the world.
Screengrab via PTXofficial/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.