Here’s why Avi Kaplan decided to leave Pentatonix. The a cappella group are best known as the winners of the third season of NBC’s The Sing-Off – a victory made all the more impressive by the fact Pentatonix only formed just a day before they auditioned. During the season, Pentatonix faced off against fierce talent in the form of collegiate a cappella groups including Howard University’s Afro Blue and the University of Rochester YellowJackets. They triumphed in the end and managed to win over judges and viewers with their arrangements of The Buggles ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ and ‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence and the Machine.
Since their victory on The Sing-Off Pentatonix have had a very successful career, releasing several chart-topping albums featuring a cappella covers of pop tunes and Christmas songs alongside original arrangements. The group have toured extensively across North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia and have had cameos in shows and movies like Bones and Pitch Perfect 2. In between all that, they managed to fit in no less than three consecutive Grammy wins for three very different songs – their ‘Jolene’ collaboration with Dolly Parton, a Daft Punk medley and their version of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’.
After all of Pentatonix’s success, it came as quite a shock to fans when bass vocalist Avi Kaplan stated in May 2017 he would be leaving the a cappella outfit after six years. Kaplan made the announcement in an emotional video posted to the group’s Facebook in which he was surrounded by fellow band members Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and explained his decision to leave.
A MESSAGE FROM AVI Hello everyone. If you haven’t yet watched the video then these words might come as a shock to you. If you have watched, know that this is exactly what I would have said in the video, if filming it wasn’t one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. This morning, I announced that I will be taking a step back from PTX. I’ve struggled with this decision a lot. It has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. Before I explain why, I want you all to know that the past 6 years have been the most unbelievable years of my life. The things we’ve accomplished, the places we’ve seen, the people we’ve touched with our music… It surpasses anything that I could have ever dreamed up for my life. I believe one of the big reasons why we have been so successful and accomplished all that we have is because of the unbelievably fast pace that we keep. Throughout my journey with PTX, this pace has always been a struggle for me. It’s been hard for me not to be with my family and friends when I need them or when they need me. It’s been hard to not be able to escape into nature when I’m feeling overwhelmed or just need some time to myself. Through all of this, I’ve done my best and I’ve kept pushing myself to keep up. Really, the reason why I’ve been able to push so hard and for so long has been because of you guys. You all have inspired me and lifted me up every single day and, for that, I am eternally grateful. I do love you all so very much, but I’ve come to a point where I just can’t keep up anymore and I would never want to inhibit any type of success that we have because I truly do believe in everything that we’ve done and everything that they will do. I just know that I can no longer continue at this pace and so I have to do what’s best for the group and I have to do what’s best for me. I do want you all to know that I’m still going to be doing music and I’m going to be doing it with my whole heart. I will ALWAYS do my best to lift others up with my voice. I hope that you’ll all support my decision and that you can understand where I’m coming from. And regardless of anything, I just want to thank you for all that you’ve given to me. I have been so unbelievably blessed and humbled to be a part of all your lives in any way and I wanted you to hear this from me. From my voice. And from my heart. I love you all deeply and I thank you for everything. Truly. And just so you know, I will still be performing at all of our announced shows, so come say hi and give me a hug. I love hugs. Avi #PTXForeverPosted by Pentatonix on Friday, May 12, 2017
Kaplan stated that though his six years with Pentatonix had been an amazing experience, he struggled with the fact the group’s massive success and constant touring meant he was often separated from family and friends for long periods. The split was amicable and Kaplan performed his last show with Pentatonix in September 2017 in Vermont with new member Matt Sallee taking his place shortly after.
Kaplan hasn’t completely left the music industry, however, but he’s more focused on folk music than a cappella arrangements these days. He released his debut solo EP Sage And Stone under the moniker Avriel & The Sequoias in summer 2017 and released a further four singles in 2019. He also embarked on his first solo tour though luckily its eleven dates were a lot less demanding than the kind of touring he did with Pentatonix.