Mitch Grassi

Mitchell Coby Michael Grassi (born July 24, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, arranger, and musician from Arlington, Texas. Known for his[a] high tenor voice, Grassi came to international attention as the founder and performer of two groups; the quintet a cappella collective Pentatonix, and the duo Superfruit with Scott Hoying.[1][2][3][4][5] As of May 2019, Pentatonix has released ten albums, including two number ones, have had four songs in the Billboard Hot 100, and won three Grammy awards as "the first a cappella group to achieve mainstream success in the modern market".[6][7] As of February 2019, Superfruit's YouTube channel has over 2.5 million subscribers and has accumulated over 392 million views.[8] He is a tenor known for “his incredibly high and versatile vocal range”.[9][10] As of 2016, Grassi lives in Hollywood, California.[11]

Mitch Grassi
Mitch Grassi 2015 b&w.jpg
Grassi performing with Pentatonix at the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas in August 2015
Born
Mitchell Coby Michael Grassi

(1992-07-24) July 24, 1992 (age 28)
Arlington, Texas, United States
Awards3 Grammys
Musical career
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • synthesizer
Years active2002–present
LabelsRCA, Madison Gate
Associated actsPentatonix, Superfruit

In April 2020 Grassi debuted a solo moniker, Messer, doing a DJ set of "a range of dark, techno tunes" at Paper’s Club Quarantine Zoom event during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.[12]

Early life and educationEdit

Mitchell "Mitch" Coby Michael Grassi was born (1992-07-24)July 24, 1992 in Arlington, Texas, to Nel Grassi (née Fenton) and Hornell native, Michael Grassi.[13][5][14] Grassi is of half Italian, and half a mix of Scottish, Irish and Welsh descent.[15] The couple relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area in the mid-1980s for Mike's career in the airline industry; Nel is a dental hygienist educator.[16] Grassi has an older sister, Jessa, and remembers doing singalongs to then-current pop tunes and Christmas songs in homemade variety shows with her, for his parents when he was very young.[17] His uncle Tony was also "a high tenor and had an incredible range".[16] He met Scott Hoying, another co-founder of Pentatonix, and his partner in the duo Superfruit, when he was young.[18] He also met Kirstin Maldonado, another Pentatonix founder, when he was nine or ten and they were both doing musical theater.[17] Grassi and Hoying were both active in theater arts in Arlington and met when they were cast in the musical Annie; they both also play piano.[18][19] They were "giggly" together but not best friends immediately; they then were split up being sent to different schools for a year and a half, and reunited while performing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.[18] Though both were still closeted at the time, they feel they had a subconscious connection, as well as their musical theater interests; Grassi's favorite Broadway musical is Rent which features gay characters and actors.[18] When he was fourteen, Grassi knew he wanted to be a singer and musician, "I want to enrich others' lives with the music I make, because that's what music did for me all my life."[5]

When Grassi was seventeen he was inspired by Lady Gaga when she came out as part of the LGBTQ community, and admires her sense of self expression, "That was something I'd always yearned to do because I had always been the weird kid—I always had something, I always wanted to make a point and I always wanted to be an individual."[2] Grassi briefly dated Hoying at their "arts-oriented" Martin High School; both openly gay, they remain best friends.[20][7][21]

Pentatonix started as a trio, as Grassi, Hoying, and Maldonado had been in choir for most of their high school careers.[22] Grassi and Maldonado also did community theater together as well.[23] The three quickly put together an a cappella cover of Lady Gaga's 2010 "Telephone" featuring Beyoncé to compete in a local radio station contest to meet Glee cast members.[7] They did not win but kept competing and performing, gaining notoriety.[7]

Hoying heard about The Sing-Off reality-show competition for a cappella acts; he gained an interest in the genre once in college.[17][7] It was the first the three really embraced a cappella.[17] The show required groups to have five or more members, so they recruited bass vocalist Avi Kaplan and singer/beat boxer Kevin Olusola.[24][25] Grassi skipped high school graduation to audition for 2011's The Sing Off.[26] After they won, all relocated to Los Angeles to pursue recording artist careers.[27][28] The main goal of the group was to become the first modern mainstream a cappella group; which they have done.[7][29]

PentatonixEdit

Pentatonix is a quintet a cappella collective, with most of their songs being covers, and much of their success comes from touring, including internationally.[6][30] They gained national attention in the U.S. competing on NBC's a cappella reality show The Sing-Off in 2011, which they won.[20] The group got a record label, who dropped them as their audience was too niche—with no guarantee of selling albums, or concert tickets—but Grassi felt it was ultimately advantageous as around late 2012 Pentatonix started posting videos to YouTube building an international fan base.[b][7][24][31] Pentatonix also released the debut EP, PTX, Volume 1, on their new label in June 2012, followed by a Christmas EP, PTXmas in November.[25] They recorded covers of pop 40 hits like Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (2011), Psy's "Gangnam Style" (2012), and Fun's "We Are Young" (2011).[32] Their big video hit was a November 2013 video doing a medley of Daft Punk songs, it had ten million views in the first week of its release and rose to over 150 million views; as of January 2020 it has over 320 million views.[32][33]

As of March 2015 they had 7.6 million YouTube subscribers, that rose to seventeen million as of October 2019; with over three billion video views.[31][34][30] As of February 2020, they had over 4.4 billion views; they also have two million followers on Instagram, and 3.6 million on Facebook.[35]

They continually release YouTube videos, with nearly every one with more than a million views.[19][36] They also tour extensively including across North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America—over an estimated forty countries as of December 2016; and have had cameos in shows and movies like Bones and Pitch Perfect 2 (2015); and their own television show, A Pentatonix Christmas Special (2016).[35][37][38][39]

As of December 2019, Pentatonix has released eleven albums, ten of which reached the Top Ten on the Billboard 200, all combined selling ten million albums—including two number one albums, and five of Christmas music—and have had four songs in the Billboard Hot 100, and won three Grammy awards.[40][6][41][42] Their three Grammy wins were for their: Daft Punk medley tribute to the French electronic music duo (2015); version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" (2016); Jolene collaboration with Dolly Parton (2017).[38] In addition to their regular tours, they utilize their extensive holiday music for Christmastime tours.[41] Their That's Christmas to Me (2014) is the highest-charting Christmas album by a group of two or more since 1962.[43]

The individual members find inspiration to cover recent songs, as well as international classics, then if they decide as a group it is a good match, they compose an arrangement; their friend Ben Bram, who is also their producer, is their co-arranger.[6][7][22] Grassi is influenced by electronic music; his dream mentor, and single biggest influence is Imogen Heap.[22][5] Although they are known for their covers and re-arranged popular songs, the band released their first album, Pentatonix, in October 2015, and it was all original music; it also marked the first time an a cappella group had the top album on the Billboard 200 album chart.[6][44] Their sold-out North American tour that year was documented in the movie, On My Way Home.[45] Grassi noted he and Hoying both being openly gay has been appreciated by the group's fans; a common demographic is midwesterners and Christians who comment that the pair have helped them accept their LGBTQ children.[2]

SuperfruitEdit

 
Scott Hoying and Grassi, seen here in November 2014, make up Superfruit.

Grassi and Scott Hoying, lifelong friends, vlogged skits, comedy videos, and duets to YouTube quickly gaining a following; after hundreds of videos they saw the music ones were the most liked so created Superfruit.[20] Some of their viral videos include: Frozen medley (with more than thirteen million views as of April 2016) ; an "Evolution of Miley Cyrus" (12.8 million) and a Beyoncé album medley (with over twelve million).[46] According to Hoying, Superfruit "came from Mitch's random mind".[47] Hoying noted, "Our first rule with starting Superfruit was: This is for fun, ... This is to be free and do whatever we want. So, let's write stories that we want to write, let's make videos that we want to make, let's not put limitations on it. And not care so much about calculating it to where we think it might be more successful ... And I think that's why it feels so good to the fans."[48] The first Superfruit video was released on August 13, 2013.[49] Navigating Pentatonix versus the duo's projects and touring schedules was simplified by the quintet's rule that the larger groups' commitments come first.[20] Grassi feels Superfruit is raunchier, "more gay-friendly and a lot more open, more sexual, more liberated".[2]

They started to incorporate original music into the project, starting in 2016.[48] Superfruit's first EP, Future Friends, Part One, was released in June 2017, Part Two in September 2017, followed by a full-length album of the same name.[18][48][50] The EP's concept is that a friendship can run even deeper than any romantic component.[48] They wrote with songwriters and producers collaborators including Robopop, Justin Tranter, and John Hill; and produced videos for each song.[48] The album won critical acclaim and rose to ninth place on the Billboard 200 album chart.[48]

Superfruit's debut video for Future Friends, "Imaginary Parties", was noted by InStyle for the bold fashions that their stylist Candice McAndrews helped them secure.[50] McAndrews has worked with Pentatonix since the beginning as well.[50] She used Gucci and Balenciaga to elevate with high-fashion inspiration and "a pop art approach to their look".[50] Grassi wears ninety percent women's clothing, and is enthusiastic to express a more feminine side; he feels "clothing is genderless. It's all about expression and feeling and the art of it."[50] McAndrews shared that a Superfruit fitting will have seven to nine racks of clothing for each, including designers "Alexander Wang, Loewe, Vetements , Haider Ackermann, Raf Simons, and Maison Margiela".[50]

Public appearanceEdit

Grassi has become known for being fashion forward and adventurous; he feels "self expression, especially through fashion is so important" for him.[2] He explains he has a "totally avant garde interest in art, fashion and music", and a duality with Pentatonix to respect the business and fan base at the same time.[2] He is inspired by "late '80s, early '90s", and interested in vintage Martin Margiela, a Belgium fashion designer; and Demna Gvasalia, a French designer, and creative director of Balenciaga and Vetements.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Grassi is openly gay; Out readers voted him the second-most eligible gay bachelor behind Adam Lambert in 2017.[51] He is known for playing with gender expression, such as wearing a dress and heels,[52] and has stated that he accepts both he/him and she/her pronouns.[53]

In 2018, Grassi bought a house above Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills for $1.73 million; the single-story, two bedroom home includes views of Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.[54] To address not being able to record as a group because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Pentatonix's label, RCA Records, financed in-home studios for each member.[55] He put it up for sale in 2020.[54]

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Grassi noted his veganism was vital to his self care. When asked "When you’re able to leave the house again, what’s one thing you’ll never leave without?", he answered marijuana.[11]

Awards and nominationsEdit

World Choreography AwardsEdit

Year Category Work Result Ref.
2017 Best Choreography in a Music Video Sweet Life Won [56]
Daytime Emmy Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2017 Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on Rachael Ray Won [57]
Grammy Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2015 Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella "Daft Punk" Won [58]
2016 "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" Won [59]
2017 Best Country Duo/Group Performance "Jolene" (ft. Dolly Parton) Won [60]
Streamy Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2014 Best Cover Song "Daft Punk" Won [61]
Best Original Song "Love Again" Won [61]
Best Musical Artist Pentatonix Nominated [61]
2015 Best Collaboration Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling Nominated [62]
Best Cover Song "Evolution of Michael Jackson" Nominated [62]
YouTube Music Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2013 Response of the Year "Radioactive" (with Lindsey Stirling) Won [63]
2015 Artist of the Year Pentatonix Won [64]
Shorty Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2015 Best YouTube Musician Pentatonix Won [65]
Billboard Music Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2015 Top Billboard 200 Album That's Christmas to Me Nominated [66]
Top Billboard 200 Artist Pentatonix Nominated [67]
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2016 Favorite Music Group Pentatonix Nominated [68]
2017 Nominated [69]
IHeartRadio Music Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2016 Best Cover Song "Cheerleader" Nominated [70]
Webby Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
2016 Video Remixes/Mashups Evolution of Michael Jackson Nominated [71]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Grassi uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. This article uses masculine pronouns for consistency.
  2. ^ Having Epic drop them from the label also opened the path for their manager to get them out of their reality show contract.[25]
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