Welcome to the final episode of our three-part “Listening to Black Creators” series for Black History Month. On today’s show, Heather gets to sit down with Kevin Olusola, a member of the three-time Grammy Award–winning vocal ensemble Pentatonix. Kevin shares his story, which he credits solely to God and his call to “radical reliance.” Oh, Kevin acknowledges that he had to do his part by putting in the work to become a masterful musician; however, it was God who ultimately opened doors and provided incredible coincidences of timing that really were not coincidences at all.

In this episode you will learn how Kevin went from medical school at Yale to performing cello beatboxing for Yo-Yo Ma to creating a viral video that landed him on a reality television show and eventually led to him becoming the fifth member of Pentatonix. This story is so wild that only God could have orchestrated it.

But first, it’s time for Social Toolkit. Heather continues walking us through some of the obstacles facing Black creators online. Today, she focuses on algorithm bias and pay discrepancies.

Guest Bio
Kevin Olusola is a member of the Grammy Award–winning musical group Pentatonix. He grew up in the small town of Owensboro, Kentucky, the son of a Nigerian psychiatrist and a Grenadian nurse. At an early age, Kevin began learning piano, cello, and saxophone. He performed at Carnegie Hall twice as soloist on the cello and saxophone and has appeared on NPR’s From the Top. Kevin enrolled at Yale University where he studied pre-med and East Asian studies. He spent 18 months in Beijing, becoming fluent in Chinese as a part of his Yale fellowship. While in college, Kevin began developing “cello-boxing,” his innovative blending of intricate beatboxing with classical cello performances. And in 2009, he won second place in the “Celebrate and Collaborate with Yo-Yo Ma” international competition. Ma would call Kevin's cello-boxing version of “Dona Nobis Pacem” both “inventive and unexpected.” In 2011, Kevin’s “Julie-O” cello-boxing YouTube video was featured by CBS, AOL, Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, among others. Kevin was also named one of 100 “History Makers in the Making” by NBC’s TheGrio and was hand-chosen by Quincy Jones to represent him in concert at the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival alongside Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea.

Host Bio
Heather Thompson Day is an associate professor of communication at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. She is the author of eight books, including I’ll See You Tomorrow and It’s Not Your Turn. Reach out to Heather on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, at @HeatherTDay and on Instagram @heatherthompsonday. Get Heather’s weekly inspirational email delivered to your inbox every Friday night at 7 p.m. EST. Sign up now at: www.heatherthompsonday.com/links.

Viral Jesus is a production of Christianity Today
Host and creator: Heather Thompson Day
Executive Producer: Ed Gilbreath
Producer: Loren Joseph
Mix Engineer: Alex Carter
Director of CT Podcasts: Mike Cosper