Avriel Benjamin “Avi” Kaplan is an American singer and songwriter, best known as a past member of the a cappella group Pentatonix. He is known for his deep bass voice and often acted as the vocal bass of Pentatonix. In May 2017, Kaplan announced that he was leaving Pentatonix following their upcoming tour.
In 2017, Kaplan debuted his solo folk music project, Avriel & the Sequoias, in which he also plays guitar. His debut EP, Sage, and Stone were released on June 9, 2017; the first song, “Fields and Pier”, premiered on April 29. On March 22, 2019, he premiered a new song, “Change on the Rise”, this time under the name Avi Kaplan.
He is a three-time Grammy Award winner, as a part of Pentatonix.
He is Jewish, which often led to repeated bullying as a child.
He loved folk music and frequently went to the nearby Sequoia National Park, which became an inspiration for his music. He considers his earliest musical inspirations to be Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Bill Withers. Later inspirations include Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, Ben Harper, and José González.
Before joining Pentatonix, Kaplan was already an accomplished a cappella artist, while also performing in operas and jazz.
He joined Pentatonix in 2011, when original members Kirstin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, and Scott Hoying were searching for a bass singer and a beatboxer. The group met the day before the auditions for the third season of The Sing-Off began. The group successfully auditioned for the show and eventually went on to win the title for 2011 (season three). Kaplan acted as the group’s vocal bass but frequently sang lead parts as well.
As a member of Pentatonix, Kaplan won three Grammy awards. On February 8, 2015, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a cappella” category for their song “Daft Punk”, a medley of songs by Daft Punk. On February 15, 2016, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the same category, this time for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from their “That’s Christmas to Me” album. On February 12, 2017, Pentatonix won a Grammy in the “Best Country duo/group performance” category for “Jolene”, which featured Dolly Parton.
On April 29, 2017, Kaplan premiered “Fields and Pier”, his first song as a solo artist, under the name “Avriel & the Sequoias.” His debut EP, Sage, and Stone were released on June 9, 2017. In May 2017, Kaplan announced that he would be leaving Pentatonix to spend more time with friends and family.
Avriel & the Sequoias
- Sage and Stone (EP, 2017)
- Change on the Rise (single, 2019)
- Otherside (single, 2019)
- The Summit (single, 2019)
- Aberdeen (single, 2019)
Avi Kaplan embarked on his first solo live shows with ‘Nashville Residency’ at The Basement in Nashville, TN. It was a series of 5 shows over the course of 3 weeks in April 2019. All 5 shows were sold out. He was accompanied by Daniel Ellsworth (piano/vocals), Jeremy Lister (guitar/vocals), Jonathan Lister (drums/vocals) and Kaleb Thomas Jones (bass guitar/vocals).
In July 2019 Avi Kaplan began the Otherside Tour which took him to California, Washington State, Oregon. The tour continued in August 2019 going to New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Daniel Ellsworth played an opening set at the Troubadour, LA on July 10, 2019, and at the Aladdin Theater, OR on July 15, 2019.