First, for the uninitiated, a brief primer on “beatboxing”:
Beatboxing is a musical technique, especially popular in hip-hop circles, where the sounds of percussion instruments are simulated by mouth.
One young Latter-day Saint’s talent as a beatboxer will be on wide display Friday evening, June 14, on “The Big Stage” — a non-competitive talent show on the CW television network, 7 p.m., MDT.
Adam Bell’s journey from novice beatboxer to featured national television performer followed an unexpected path.
The 18-year-old San Clemente, California, resident and lifelong member comes from a family of classically trained musicians. Recitals and concerts defined much of his childhood. While performing with California’s All-American Boys Choir, he met a pair of BYU students/beatboxing experts named Adam Heimbigner and Matt Newman.
Bell was hooked.
He began honing his own beatboxing skills, sitting in on sessions with Heimbigner and Newman and studying YouTube videos of elite performers.
“Beatboxing’s been super helpful to me personally because I have high-functioning autism and I’m in constant need of trying to know what to say and finding a way to fit in,” he wrote in an email. “Since beatboxing is the ultimate portable sound kit, I can practice my routines wherever I need — and whenever I’m put on the spot to exhibit my talents, I’m never without my instrument.”
His talents have also been a vehicle to new friendships.
“I especially enjoy the community beatboxing creates in the way of finding friends and making music together. I participated in a great BYU summer camp called Remix Vocal Academy, which teaches contemporary a capella, and while I learned a lot of musical skills there, I also made a supportive group of amazing friends.”
BYU’s a capella group Vocal Point was touring Southern California last year. During one concert, Bell’s mentor Matt Newman called him onstage for a duet. A producer for the CW network was in the audience and was impressed by Bell’s skills. When “The Big Stage” talent show was being developed a short time later, the rising young Latter-day Saint beatboxer was invited to join the lineup.
The “Big Stage” experience, admitted Bell, “completely caught me off-guard.”
Expect a minimalist performance from Bell on Friday. While some of the other “Big Stage” acts feature lasers or fog machines, the beatboxer’s only prop is a wireless mic.
The young performer said he traces the Lord’s hand in his musical development.
“I see beatboxing not as some parlor trick, but as a unique tool to bless and uplift those around me; to help take them away from whatever negative emotions or experiences they may be experiencing to be entertained for a couple of minutes.”
A priest in the Marblehead Ward, San Clemente California Stake, Bell plans to attend BYU for a year before serving a mission.
“While serving a full-time mission, I'd anticipate doing more in the way of singing sacred music, and I would also hope to showcase the skills I’ve gained because of the Lord’s hand and then be able to testify that those skills come from Him.”