MU's Kyle Gillespie adds rhythm to Mizzou Forte

Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 2:41 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 13, 2013
Kyle Gillespie beatboxes during a Mizzou Forte practice. Gillespie is the president and lead beatboxer for the group. Gillespie said that beatboxing can add drum fills and keep the beat with all-voice singing groups.

COLUMBIA — Beatboxing is as easy as P-K-S.

MU sophomore Kyle Gillespie taught himself the rhythmic art of vocal percussion by just messing around and playing with the letters p, k and s.

"And if you just start blurting stuff out, you'll eventually start getting a beat," Gillespie said.

Gillespie sings and beatboxes with the coed a cappella group called Mizzou Forte. A cappella groups sing and dance with no instrument accompaniment.

Mizzou Forte's goal is to offer a different sound than anyone in Columbia has ever heard before, the group's website says.

The student-run club started in 2005 and currently has 18 members. The group holds auditions at the start of every semester. More than 70 students auditioned for the group this year.

The group's notable performances include singing at Olympic swimming qualifiers, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, ad campaigns for the Missouri State Lottery, MU's Tap Day and charities such as Relay for Life and Dance Marathon.

Mizzou Forte also opened for Aaron Carter at The Blue Note on May 6.

The group practices twice a week for two hours to cover songs such as "Blackbird" by the Beatles, "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake and "Love on Top" by Beyonce.

Gillespie and MU junior Austin Nichols provide most of the beatboxing for Mizzou Forte's performances.

Gillespie said that beatboxing can add drum fills and keep the beat with all-voice singing groups.

"When you beatbox, it gives you an extra substance to the music," Gillespie said. "The biggest thing is it helps you keep tempo as you're singing through songs."

Beatboxing is easy enough for people who cannot sing or only do so in the shower, Gillespie said, because keeping the rhythm is simply spitting out P's, K's and S's.

"Anyone can beat box," Gillespie said. "It's a good way to express yourself if you can't sing."

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