BYU’s nine-man a cappella group Vocal Point is appearing this fall on NBC’s music reality show “The Sing-Off,” which premieres Monday at 7 p.m. MT.
This is the popular show’s third season, and the format has expanded to include 16 a cappella groups competing to impress the show’s celebrity judges and avoid elimination each of its 11 weeks.
A group made up of female BYU students, Noteworthy, appeared on the show’s first season, and two members have returned this season. Amy Whitcomb, who graduated last April, and Laina Walker, a current student, are part of an all-female group made of of past contestants.
Vocal Point earned its way onto the show based on its 20-year-track record of delighting audiences and winning the top honors in their field. They twice won regional semi-finals and the right to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but gave up their spot because finals were held on Sunday. BYU teams and groups choose not to perform on Sundays. In 2006 the final was held on a Saturday, and Vocal Point won the world championship in New York’s Lincoln Center. Noteworthy won the next year. This year, Vocal Point was first runner-up. Jake Hunsaker won best soloist and Tanner Nilsson won best vocal percussionist.
Appearing on national television is a new milestone for the group. They appear at the one-minute mark in this extended preview released by NBC.
“This is the biggest audience that Vocal Point has ever performed for, and possibly will ever perform in front of – millions of people,” said Ross Welch, who sings tenor and baritone. “I think this is going to give great exposure to BYU and to the Mormon community as well. I think people’s experience is going to be very positive, seeing what Vocal Point brings.”
Recording the show has been a demanding experience with a big payoff, said McKay Crockett, tenor. Sometimes the group received a song they had never heard before and then had to perfect it to the point they could perform it on national television.
“It was definitely exhilarating, being able to sing right in front of (judges) Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman and Sarah Bareilles, and also to have 13 different cameras swirling around you at the same time,” he said.
Group members laughed when asked how they spend their free time during show production, because a typical day goes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. or even midnight. It’s filled with “a few hours of vocal rehearsal, a few hours of choreography rehearsal, a few hours of recording music, a few hours of wardrobe, a few MORE hours of choreography, and a few more hours of music rehearsal,” said Keith Evans, who sings tenor and percussion.
The singers are filmed much of the time, including their backstage experiences.
“Eventually you kind of forget about it, and you’re going about your normal rehearsal, and we’re having prayer or whatever our normal routine is, and we look up and we’re like, ‘Oh, there’s a camera man here, catching all this,’ and it’s kind of cool to realize that that’s part of the story too,” Evans said.
Watch a Vocal Point music video recorded in the HBLL.