Childhood & Early Life
Avi was born in the city of Visalia in California, US, on April 17, 1989, to Michael and Shelly Kaplan. He has a brother named Joshua and a sister named Esther.
His family is Jewish, and he was raised in a traditional Jewish environment. His Jewish roots made him a target of bullies in his childhood. He started displaying an interest in music at a tender age, and this interest was encouraged by his parents.
He started studying classical music at an early age and was interested in singing. He joined the choir of the church of the ‘Divisadero Middle School’ in his hometown in Visalia at the insistence of his friend Anjelica Chavez and the school choir teacher, Miss Manes.
He later joined ‘Mt. Whitney High School’ in his town. There, he was one of the few freshmen to be invited to join the choir.
At the age of 15, he learned how to play the guitar all by himself. He soon started performing at coffee houses in his hometown. In 2007, at the age of 18, he joined ‘Mt. San Antonio College’ in Walnut, California, US.
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At the age of 16, he wrote his first song, ‘Collision.’ He wrote the song to commemorate his parents’ car accident involving six cars that had forced his mother to undergo a back surgery.
As a child, he trained in classical music and also developed an interest in American folk music. He would often visit the ‘Sequoia National Park’ near his hometown to gather inspiration for his style of music.
At ‘Mt. San Antonio College,’ he developed an interest in “a cappella” music and also participated in the choir. In 2008, he joined the “a cappella” group ‘Fermata Nowhere’ in his college. The group won the prestigious ‘International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella’ (ICCA).
At the ‘ICCA,’ he was also awarded the individual-category prize for the ‘Best Rhythm Section.’ The award was earlier known as the award for ‘Best Vocal Percussionist.’ He won the honor for his magnificent performances throughout the championship.
In his third year at ‘Mt. San Antonio College,’ he joined ‘Sincopation,’ an award-winning jazz group that had previously won the ‘Monterey Jazz Festival Competition.’ He traveled to many places in the world with this group and performed at prestigious venues such as ‘Lincoln Center’ and ‘Carnegie Hall’ in New York City.
He continued to struggle to establish himself as a musician and managed to earn some fame as an independent “a capella” artist.
In 2011, he applied for the open position of the bass singer in the “a cappella” band ‘Pentatonix.’ The band wanted to compete on the reality TV show ‘The Sing-Off.’ They were looking for a bass singer and a beatboxer to enhance the range of their performance.
He was selected to be the bass vocalist in the band ‘Pentatonix’ just a day before the auditions for the reality TV show ‘The Sing-Off.’ The band was successful in the auditions held the next day and was selected to be part of the show.
As a member of ‘Pentatonix’ in ‘The Sing-Off’, Avi performed as a bass singer and as a lead vocalist in a few performances. The group won the 2011 season (third season) of the reality show. The group earned a contract with ‘Sony Music Entertainment,’ as part of the reward for winning the show. His sister, Esther, became the tour manager of the group.
‘Pentatonix’ hit the music world like a storm, with Avi as one of its most popular members. Avi’s deep voice and his seemingly carefree, quiet, and friendly attitude were liked by all. Between 2011 and 2017, ‘Pentatonix’ released five studio albums, five EPs, 15 singles, and 42 music videos, with Avi as part of the group.
He won three ‘Grammy Awards’ as a member of ‘Pentatonix.’ The first of these was in the ‘Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or a cappella’ category, for the song ‘Daft Punk’ in 2015. The second ‘Grammy’ was in the same category, for the song ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ in 2016. In 2017, the band won their third Grammy, in the ‘Best Country Duo/Group Performance’ category, for their song ‘Jolene,’ featuring Dolly Parton.
In April 2017, he established his solo project, ‘Avril & the Sequoias.’ On April 29, 2017, he released his first song as a solo artist, ‘Fields and Pier.’ In May 2017, he announced his decision to quit ‘Pentatonix’ due to personal reasons.
On June 29, 2017, he released his debut EP, ‘Sage and Stone.’ His last performance with ‘Pentatonix’ was held on September 3, 2017.