Group's creative director reflects how far Vocal Point has come
In between watching himself and his friends sing on national television and attending his BYU classes, Vocal Point’s Robert Seely still runs the window washing business that he started before his mission. He also picks up a few shifts at the BYU Creamery, except now that he’s appearing on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” – watch Monday at 7 p.m. MT – he has to deal with coworkers asking to take photos with him.
“It really surprises me that four or five times a day, while I’m walking across campus, people come up to me and say, ‘Aren’t you the bass in Vocal Point?’” Seely says. “I don’t have any solos, and, I mean, even I didn’t know who the basses were in Vocal Point before I joined.”
Seely, and all the members of Vocal Point, receive no scholarships and no compensation for the time and effort they put into BYU’s premier male a cappella group. They still study and work to make ends meet, even with the rave reviews they have earned during their “Sing-Off” episodes.
After Vocal Point’s most recent episode, celebrity judge Ben Folds told the Daily Universe: “And one thing that’s blown me away is what great guys they are. They just seem so honorable and adjusted. Whatever you guys have in the water there is definitely something worth drinking a little bit of.”
And Folds isn’t the only one, says Vocal Point’s artistic director James Stevens, who is embracing the group’s approach to sharing their passion for music.
“I was walking from the library to the Wilkinson Center with McKay [Crockett] the other day,” Stevens said, referring to the tenor who sometimes sings lead. “And he got stopped seven times.”
The reaction is gratifying for Stevens, who fills a role similar to that of an athletic coach for the group. He also writes arrangements and even helps with sound and technical needs.
He admits that when he sang in the group from 2001-2003 he didn’t foresee this kind of notoriety, “but it’s part of the Vocal Point culture to dream big and always be looking for opportunities to get out in the world to share what we have.”
Stevens recalled the taping of the first episode, when Vocal Point was slated to perform last and the night wore on. He worried that the studio audience and judges were getting tired, and still wasn’t sure how they would react to his group.
“Then they went out there and sang Jump, Jive an’ Wail, and everyone went crazy,” he says. “Knowing you’re already a hit with the Mormon crowd and with your audience in Provo, but not knowing how the rest of the world would receive it, it was very exciting to realize that this reaches an even wider audience than we have previously.”
Vocal Point joined with other groups from “The Sing-Off” to combine for 7 of the top 10 tracks on the iTunes Top Songs chart at one point.
The all-female group Delilah, which includes recent BYU graduate Amy Whitcomb and current student Laina Walker, also made the chart with two of their songs and continues to compete in the show.