The Untold Truth Of Pentatonix's Kirstin Maldonado

If a cappella music is a passion or interest of yours, it's pretty likely you've heard of Pentatonix, the five-part a cappella group who took the world by storm following their successful turn on "The Sing-Off." Kirsten Maldonado is the only female member of the group. Of her role, she's said that her gender doesn't impact much in terms of the group's day-to-day reality, telling Sweety High that it really only matters in one specific circumstance. She explained, "We're just like a giant family. That's how we treat each other. As long as I have a mirror and a place to change I'm golden."


While Pentatonix has played a huge part in Maldonado's life, it's not the only thing that has kept her going. From a childhood filled with singing classes to a high school career spent in every choir she could join to an almost-wedding and her first solo EP, Maldonado seems to have made a point of living as much life as she can. Here's a glimpse into the parts of her life you might not know much about.

Kirstin Maldonado met her bandmates in high school

As many fans know, the members of Pentatonix have known one another for quite some time. In fact, Kirstin Maldonado and Mitch Grassi have known one another since they were 8 years old. Maldonado then met Scott Hoying in high school, and the three active choir members decided to form the group (per The Asian Fusion Girl). According to an interview in Go Pride with Grassi, Maldonado participated in high school choir throughout all four years.


In 2014, Maldonado told Sweety High that once the trio got together, they started making plans to perform. In fact, Maldonado, Grassi, and Hoying attempted to take their act out on the road pretty early in the evolution of Pentatonix. Maldonado told the publication that, while they were still in high school, "Scott, Mitch and I formed a little trio for a radio contest and put something together. We ended up singing at a choir concert and it got a lot of attention so we just kept doing it."

The band remained a trio until Maldonado and Hoying entered college and the threesome decided to audition for "The Sing-Off." To be competitive, Maldonado said they needed two more members, and that's exactly what happened next.


Pentatonix got their start on YouTube

Before they made competing on "The Sing-Off" their goal, Kirsten Maldonado, Scott Hoying, and Mitch Grassi were called The Trio and uploaded a lot of their music on YouTube. Maldonado later told Hollywood Life that going from DIYing a music career online to winning Grammys wasn't easy, but the path was doable and worth it. She added that the key to finding success is to keep going, even when it would be easier to quit. She said, "A lot of people get bogged down by everything going on, and so many people are trying to do the same thing, so find your niche and stick with it."


Their appearance as a five-member group on "The Sing-Off" put Pentatonix on the map. Maldonado told Sweety High that when they auditioned for the show, getting famous wasn't the goal. She explained how the group's obvious affinity for singing and performing is what made them explode, saying, "I think originally it was just a fun thing to do where we could all hang out and see each other, and we all ... obviously loved singing, so that just took off."

Kirstin Maldonado was raised by a single mom

After Kirstin Maldonado's parents divorced when she was 6 years old, she was mostly raised by her mom. She credits her childhood with her mom as the gateway experience that led her to music in the first place, telling The Asian Fusion Girl that the pair spent a lot of time in the car listening to their favorite songs. Her mom took her daughter's interest in music seriously, and, as Maldonado said, "She finally put me into voice lessons when I was 8 years old and I did a community theatre show, fell in love with it."


Maldonado's mother played a role in her musical career before those lessons as well. As the story goes, Maldonado's first real "performance" was singing at her mom's wedding. She was so impressive, in fact, that the wedding guests immediately wanted to know more about her. Maldonado told Sweety High that everyone assumed she was already enrolled in lessons, she said, noting, "My mom was like, 'Uh, no.'" It wasn't long before Maldonado was actually taking those voice lessons.

She attended college in Oklahoma before dropping out

While Kirstin Maldonado and the rest of the Pentatonix members were already focused on their music and talent in high school, she did go on to study at the University of Oklahoma for a time. As related by Tulsa World, in true form, she majored in musical theater before dropping out to pursue a spot on "The Sing-Off" alongside the rest of the group. While her original goal had been to move to New York and perform onstage, once Maldonado moved to Los Angeles, she didn't look back.


While it's likely she wouldn't change anything about the path she took to stardom, Maldonado has been honest about hoping she can finish her college degree one day. As she told The Asian Fusion Girl, her mom is her biggest reason why. She explained, "How she raised me- it was just important to get good grades. It's just something I value so much, especially after I didn't have to do it (school) anymore."

She was super self-conscious when she moved to Los Angeles

It might be a bit surprising to learn that Kirstin Maldonado has battled insecurity like most of us, but she has been quite honest about the internal battles she fought after first moving to Los Angeles. She explained to The Asian Fusion Girl that part of the problem was that, before moving, the most independent living she'd done was living away at college for a year. Though it took time, she added that, these days, she's feeling much more confident. Maldonado said, "I've found my place in the group and within myself. In the industry, it's hard to pinpoint who you really are sometimes."


The topic came up again in an interview with Yahoo! News. Maldonado explained how she spent a fair bit of time trying to be someone that others expected her to be instead of who she is, which made her feel like she could ascend to the levels she sought. She added, "I think it just took a lot of confidence-building throughout the years and kind of accepting who I was and taking those risks and taking those opportunities."

The singer loves being a role model for young girls

As the only girl in Pentatonix, Kirstin Maldonado is acutely aware of her position as a role model for young girls who want to pursue a career in entertainment, especially as singers. In fact, as she told The Asian Fusion Girl, it's a position she embraces. After sharing a story about a fan who met her and the rest of her bandmates before commenting that "everyone" should get to meet them because they're "not that cool," Maldonado added that she hopes other young girls and women see her as someone who dared to go for her dreams and who made it.


Maldonado explained in further detail that she has high hopes for her impact on others. "I want to inspire people to tear down their walls, especially for teenage girls. So many people don't believe in themselves; people are worth so much more than what social media shows," she said.

Kirstin Maldonado got engaged to Jeremy Michael Lewis in 2016

In 2016, Kirstin Maldonado and her then-boyfriend, Jeremy Michael Lewis, made a major announcement: They were getting married! Lewis proposed in a major way after three years of dating. The story in and of itself is pretty spectacular: Lewis was on the road with Pentatonix when they performed in Paris, France, and he decided to make the city that many consider to be the most romantic in the world the backdrop to the proposal.


At the time, Maldonado was over the moon, gushing to People about the details. After Lewis had a photographer secretly planted at the spot of his choice, he dropped down to one knee and asked Maldonado to be his wife. While she was thrilled with the proposal and the engagement ring, Maldonado told the publication she wasn't in a rush to get married, explaining, "Being engaged is such a beautiful next step, and I don't mind being in that state because it's just so wonderful and happy."

However, it seems that things weren't meant to last between the two. In 2017, Radar Online revealed the pair had called their wedding off.

She released her first solo album in 2017

In 2017, Kirstin Maldonado surprised fans by announcing the release of her first solo EP. While some might have been worried this spelled the end of Pentatonix, Maldonado made it clear that Pentatonix was, and is, very much together — she just felt ready to explore on her own for a bit. As she told Hollywood Life, she's grown up a lot over the years, and the time to show that was upon her. She added, "Now having experience and confidence, this project has been amazing and I feel more creative."


Maldonado's first solo single as breakaway artist kirstin™ was "Break A Little." As she told Entertainment Tonight, the song meant a lot to her. She shared how she'd been working toward writing a song like this for some time, explaining, "I always wanted to write a sad song that sounds happy. I think everyone can relate to this emotion. It's about longing for something."

Kirstin Maldonado co-wrote her solo album with two collaborators

Kirstin Maldonado was very proud of her 2017 EP for a few reasons. For one, it was the first time she attempted to create and share music apart from her work with Pentatonix. On top of that, Maldonado co-wrote the songs with two collaborators. She told PopCrush that, after realizing the only thing keeping her from releasing solo music was herself, she found the process of writing to be fun. She said the two writers she worked with were exactly what she needed, explaining, "I went to work with two new guys [David Pramik and Charlie Snyder] and we wrote the majority of the EP together. They were so amazing, and the entire experience was so great."


Maldonado also chose to keep the news of the EP's existence a secret from her record label until she knew she was ready for it to be released. Luckily, her label was completely supportive of the move.

The singer set up a home studio during the pandemic

Like a lot of us, Kirstin Maldonado found out she needed to get pretty creative to keep herself going when the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020. To solve her dilemma, she set up a studio inside her home — though she was quick to admit that she relied on her Pentatonix bandmates to make sure the studio was in tip-top shape. In fact, she told Billboard that she called Kevin Olusola to get his advice, saying, "'Kevin, I have this, this and this. What cords am I missing? What do I need? What am I doing? Like, what is happening?'"


Luckily, she pulled it together as the rest of her bandmates got their own home studios organized. The group managed to record an EP of all cover songs titled "At Home" (via Billboard). The album is special to them because, even though Maldonado couldn't be in person with her bandmates, they were all able to produce something new and meaningful while they were alone but together.

The musician likes all kinds of music except country

When you're a famous singer or musician, it makes sense that people want to know what kind of music you listen to on your own — and Kirstin Maldonado has been happy to answer that question. While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Maldonado admitted that, despite her Texan roots, the only genre of music that no one in the group listens to is country music. 


After noting, "I'm just being honest," Maldonado added that each member of the group has their own musical influences and interests, which can bring a lot to the table when it's time to record together. She said this is true "especially when we had challenges during the weeks, we'd say, 'Let's try this,' and 'Let's do a little of this.' I think that really helped."

However, it seems that Maldonado must have had a change of heart between the time she gave that 2011 interview to The Hollywood Reporter and when she was still planning her wedding in 2017. While speaking to People, Maldonado told the publication she was planning a first dance to Lonestar's "Amazed," adding, "I've known that song for forever because I'm from Texas. Country music is just always playing everywhere."


Kirstin Maldonado also has a Broadway career

In 2018, Kirstin Maldonado lived out her dream of moving to New York City and performing onstage when she joined the cast of Broadway's "Kinky Boots" alongside Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters. Maldonado told Playbill that performing in the musical was truly the realization of a dream she'd had since childhood. "I've dreamed of being on Broadway since I was a little girl, so it's really exciting to fulfill two dreams," she explained. "I think the most fulfilling thing you can do in an artistic career is to do all these different things."


Maldonado also told the publication that having the opportunity to be part of the production of "Kinky Boots" was an honor for a lot of reasons. After sharing that she had actually seen the show three different times on her own, Maldonado praised each of the actresses who had previously performed her role of Lauren (per Playbill).

"Kinky Boots" isn't the only Broadway production Maldonado has been involved with. In August 2021, Broadway World announced that the singer had taken on a part in a Chicago production of "Children of Eden."