The Beatbox Cellist

A young music prodigy fuses cello and beat-boxing to create a new art form. We’ll talk with the amazing Kevin Olusola.

Kevin Olusola (YouTube)

Kevin Olusola (YouTube)

Put a cello in the hands of young Kevin Olusola and something happens that you haven’t seen from, let’s say, Yo Yo Ma.  At least not yet.  The cello sings and Olusola sings – or more accurately, he beatboxes.

He leans into cello bow and strings and let’s loose the street percussion of hip-hop, all at the same time.  Nigerian father.  Grenadan mother.  Classical music.  All-new music.  And an all-American fusion story.  He’s on a roll.

This hour, On Point: Kevin Olusola, beatbox cellist.

-Tom Ashbrook


Kevin Olusola, a musician known as the ‘Beatbox Cellist.’ You can find numerous videos of Olusola on his YouTube channel here.


During his sophomore year in college, while studying abroad in China, Kevin Olusola, began to merge “beatboxing” and classical cello. “It was literally a random thought,” he said. “I’ve been trying to develop it slowly and it has got me to where I am today.”

Today, he’s a Youtube sensation, known as the Beatbox Cellist. His biggest hit was a rendition of Julie-O. “I thought it was a piece that always had groove and spunk,” said Olusola, who as a younger classically trained cellist was reluctant to tackle the piece. Until one day, complete with a beatbox accompaniment “I just went for it,” he said.

He says his father couldn’t stand the beatboxing-cello combination when he first began. After several performances, he says, his dad came around. “Now I get it!” his father told him.

It wasn’t just being in China that was influential to the young musician. Learning the Chinese language made him appreciate the language of music as well. “I want to be able to express myself in a certain way that’s accessible to everybody,” he said.

He says the music for him is the pursuit of the perfect melodies that he hears in his head. “It’s the pursuit that I love, the journey that I love,” he said. “I’m just going to keep working on it.” Olusola said that he has several original composition and various collaborations with other musicians in the works.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Today Show “This morning we profiled an extraordinary young musician named Kevin Olusola. He’s incredibly talented. And sweet. But I want to bop him in the nose. ”

Video: Smooth Criminal

Check out this video of Olusola riffing on the King of Pop’s hit Smooth Criminal.

Video: Ridin’ Solo

Olusola plays Jason DeRulo’s Ridin’ Solo in this video

Video: Julie-O

Here is Olusola with his break-out YouTube hit, Julie-O.

Video: The Pentatonix

Here is a video of Olusola and his group Pentatonix.

Video: Beatboxing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

This video shows Olusola’s take on the old master, live at Carnegie Hall.


Variation on “Dona Nobis Pacem” by Kevin Olusola
BEAT BOX SOLO by Kevin Olusola (LIVE)
“Somebody That I Used To Know” by Pentatonix
“Dog Days Are Over” by Pentatonix
“Shoulda Known” by Jake Breune, Kevin Olusola, Frank Sacramone
JULIE-O by Kevin Olusola (LIVE)
China Song by Kevin et al.
“Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Kevin Olusola, Clara C, Jake Bruene, & Kurt Schneider
Maurice Whitney’s “Rhumba” by Kevin Olusola + Christopher O’Riley
Beatboxing Beethoven’s Fifth by Kevin Olusola
Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo” by Kevin Olusola
Void of a Legend by Antoniette Costa + Kevin Olusola

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 30, 2015
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, center left, Minister of the Environment of Peru and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, center right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius, center, pose for photographers during a press visit to the COP21, Paris Climate Conference, site, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

World leaders converge in Paris for the big climate talks. We’ll look at what it will take to get a global climate agreement.

Nov 30, 2015
Shoppers walks in front of a holiday display Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, we’ll add up the dollars and trends and bargains of the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Nov 27, 2015
The punk rock band Sleater-Kinney (from L: Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) (Courtesy the Band)

Feminist punk-rockers, the band Sleater-Kinney, is with us. Reunited. Hotter than ever.

Nov 27, 2015
Josh Baldonado, an administrative assistant at Brown & Brown Insurance, works at a treadmill desk in the firms offices in Carmel, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP)

The end of sitting at work. A new call to get up off our chairs. To stand and move! We’ll look at how that works.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »