Jews surprise ‘America’s Got Talent’ panel with beatbox rendition of “All About That Bass.”
It is unusual to see religion come into play on the popular talent search show America’s Got Talent. But Ilan Swartz-Brownstein and Josh Leviton proved that there could be surprises when you mix Orthodox Judaism and creativity. During the last rounds of auditions which aired on July 5, the duo, wearing traditional Jewish clothing, impressed the judges and the crowd through their beatbox rendition of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”
At the end of their performance, the four celebrity judges did not hesitate to give a unanimous “yes” vote. Judge Howie Mandel even had to congratulate the duo in Hebrew exclaiming the phrase “Mazal tov” out of joy. He continues by saying that the two were amazing. Simon Cowell known for his very critical remarks on the show eventually said that the Jewish beatboxers’ performance was “cute.”
Swartz-Brownstein, originally from Portland, Oregon is a marketing student at the Yeshiva University in New York. He is also a current member of the university’s singing group the Y-Studs and is nicknamed “The Aleph Bass.” Growing up in a small Jewish community in Portland, Swartz-Brownstein cites that beatboxing became a pastime while he and his sister walked nine miles to their synagogue in Southern Portland.
Josh Leviton on the other hand is an aerospace engineering major working as a consultant. But he is also known as “The Orthobox” and has worked with the a cappella group The Maccabeats. During their performance, Mandel asked how the two met. Swartz-Brownstein cited that they became friends after bumping into each other at Jerusalem’s Western Wall (Wailing Wall) which he explains as the holiest place in Jewish tradition.
The duo wants to send a message why they chose to wear their Jewish uniform consisting of black pants, white shirt and that signature kippa or yarmulke. In an interview, Swartz-Brownstein explained that “We chose to go on the show to use this gift of being able to beatbox, and show the world you don't judge a book by its cover. We probably look like we were going to pray, or have a Talmudic debate. They don't expect we're going to beatbox. What we're going for in our beatboxing is to make people happy.”
The world will have to wait and see if the beatboxing duo will make it to the live performances and eventually to the finale. But as early as now, the two are gaining attention especially from Jewish communities in and out of the U.S. According to Swartz-Brownstein, there has been a huge line of guestings and performance requests “It’s been amazing. We’ve been getting messages from around the world, publications reaching out from Israel and Germany, talent agents that want to book. It’s overwhelming.” He also adds how proud his fellow Jews are: “People are saying how awesome it was to see us on there, and how it makes them proud to be Jewish.”