By Senaya Savir
This past February, University of Maryland alumnus Joshua Leviton, famously known as “The Orthobox,” went to Los Angeles to perform in front of the judges on “America’s Got Talent.”
In May 2015, Leviton, a senior at the time, was preparing for the Art Attack concert where he opened for heading artists including Jessie J, Logic and the Chainsmokers.
A year and a half later Leviton is back at the University of Maryland to perform at the NextNow Fest hosted by The Clarice Performing Arts Center on September 9 and 10.
On “America’s Got Talent,” Leviton performed alongside his friend and fellow beatboxer, Ilan Brownstein who met Leviton in Israel and persuaded him to audition for the show together.
Brownstein, also a Jewish beatboxer, said he watched a few of Leviton’s videos when he was in high school.
The pair met by chance in Israel at the Western Wall. “It’s crazy divine intervention that we met there,” Brownstein said.
Although the talented duo only made it past the first two rounds, Leviton said he believes they accomplished their goal.
“As much as I have confidence about what we do, I didn’t think we were gonna win, but it was about showing that being a religious Jew doesn’t mean you have to fit into a little box of what your community says you have be,” Leviton said.
After the show aired in July, Leviton was approached by several people who said their perspective on religious Jews was affected by his appearance on television .
“To be able to go into it with that intention and successfully accomplish that according to feedback that we received was a big accomplishment of ours,” Leviton said.
Following graduation, Leviton moved to the city where he does technology consulting for a company called Extenture and spends time beatboxing every chance he gets. However, he plans on moving to Israel within the next six months to start a career there.
The Orthobox spends at least 1-2 hours a day beatboxing whether it’s practicing for a gig, or just jamming for fun.
“Nothing is consistent yet, I am just jumping at each opportunity whether it’s performing on the subway or performing at an open mic night at a bar in New York City,” Leviton said.
While a lot has changed for Leviton since he graduated, his strong Jewish identity has remained unaffected.
Leviton grew up in a traditionally Jewish home, however, it was his choice to become a practicing and active Jew.
“I’m a fan of absolutes, I didn’t want to eat matzah just because that’s what Jews have always done, I wanted to know the reason, and if it didn’t make sense I wasn’t gonna just do it,” Leviton said.
According to Leviton, while being religious can be a little challenging when it comes to performing on Shabbat, he feels with this recent, “cultural push towards diversity and inclusion,” people are more flexible and accommodating.
Originally Leviton was scheduled to perform late Friday night for his NextNow performance. However as soon as he mentioned he couldn’t because of Shabbat event coordinators were immediately cooperative. “Its cool to see how accommodating and open people are when it comes to events,” Leviton said.
When it comes to performing, Leviton enjoys the musical experience aspect of it rather than the theatrical ‘putting on a show’ part of the performance. He never anticipated when he was just starting to develop his talent in the 10th grade that he would one day be performing in front of a huge crowd.
“My favorite part of performing is that I am immersed in the music and it becomes an experience,” Leviton said. “It’s no longer an auditory experience, it’s something real you can feel on the stage.”
The beatboxer’s music is strongly influenced by the dubstep and trap scene, especially in Europe where there is a strong beat-boxing presence right now.
What can you expect to see from an Orthobox performance? Leviton responded, “I’m trying to craft my gigs as a blend of an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival and a one man acapella show.”