Kevin Olusola (K.O.), talented cellist, beat boxer and singer with the popular a cappella group, Pentatonix, revealed his strong Christian background and what it is like to negotiate Christianity in the world of pop music, in interviews with Beliefnet and TC Magazine.
"I've always been technically a Christian, my Dad and my Mom, they're both Christians. They raised me in it so I've always known of God but it didn't become real to me until college when I really started digging in on my own and realizing that everything I do, if I'm not focusing on the word of Jesus Christ, it doesn't [amount to anything]," Olusola said during his interview with Beliefnet. "Christ, heaven, those are the things that are everlasting."
He is thankful to God for bringing the group together and allowing them to be so successful. "I'm so thankful because I really believe it was the Lord that put together this entity and who we are," Olusola said. "I guess the way that we always think about music, it's very similar. Although we have different styles we bring all the sounds together into a modern context. We're always thinking about the mainstream context and how we can break boundaries but maintain being a cappella."
Olusola explained that the success that the Pentatonix have received has helped him to positively influence fans and people all over the world. "That's why when you see my tweets, when you see my Facebook messages, I always try to tweet things that are uplifting and not be afraid to show people that we can be Christians in the industry," he said. "There's a book by a guy named DeVon Franklin, I think he's one of the Vice Presidents of Columbia Pictures, he always talks about how it's not really that it's bad to be in this industry, if you really follow God and His principles and are consistent people will see your life and your testimony."
Olusola says that he hopes to be a light in an industry that is often difficult to negotiate by a strong Christian believer. "I'm not perfect, I would never say that, I just believe that if I try my hardest to be consistent, show what I believe, and live it, most importantly, then that will hopefully shine through more," he said. "I guess that's kind of the prayer for what I do."
He has to keep on top of his image in the public eye, because he knows that, with growing popularity, he may be an active influence in the lives of fans. "I've learned that I really have to keep my guard up. Anything you say, anything you do, you're in the public eye," Olusola said in an interview with TC Magazine. "The one thing that's really taught me a lot is the idea of character. I've been reading a lot of books (Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey) and constantly keeping myself motivated to refine my character so that when people see me, they know that I stand for something different."
Olusola sometimes acts as kind of a gatekeeper for what music the Pentatonix choose to perform because the rest of the group know that he is grounded with very strong religious beliefs. "They always ask me, 'Kevin are you comfortable with the song? If not we'll find something else,'" he toldBeliefnet. "There's a lot of songs in the mainstream that are actually not bad songs. We just have to find those that are relevant and popular, and then we can work on those. So I'm thankful that they understand from that point that it's more of what I'm about."
By performing popular music, Olusola and the Pentatonix can influence a wide-spread audience. It is important for them to find music that will impact a large number of people while still communicating a positive message. "I always try to make sure we find the best lyrics that can represent us very well and have kind of a universal theme. You can't exclude anybody, I want people to hear the music that we're doing, so that's why I pray that we find the things that will really give us a worldwide audience so that when I talk to people about faith they can take an ear to it," Olusola said.
He puts his faith in God to give him the ability to perform and does not take credit for his talent. "Every time I approach the cello or approach anything I always start with a word of prayer. I ask God to give me the ability to do what I do, because it's not really coming from me," Olusola said. "I feel like I'm more of a messenger. What I'm trying to create, it's not really mine it's [God's]. I make sure in whatever I'm doing that the message is coming across very well."
He encourages others to understand that their God-given gifts are something that they should be thankful for and use in a way that is glorifying to Him. "Just know that your gifts came from God and that no man can tell you what to do with it," Olusola said, according to TC Magazine. "Even with fine arts, there's a healing spirit about it that I think is just beautiful and absolutely necessary. If it's creative, it's harder, but you'll find your way."
He said that his prayer tends to sound a bit like this: "Lord let me be the messenger, you come through me, because if it's not from you then it doesn't really matter," according to Beliefnet.
The Pentatonix released their first EP 'PTX Volume 1,' in June 2012. They are expected to tour throughout the summer, beginning on July 17 and running through until August.