Vocal Point was founded in 1991 by two students at Brigham Young University. Dave Boyce and Bob Ahlander first heard the contemporary a cappella sound during a visit to the eastern U.S., where it had already grown to considerable popularity at colleges throughout the east. Seeking to bring that sound westward, Dave and Bob recruited Jill Petersen-Lex to serve as the group’s first Artistic Director. The three held auditions in the fall of 1991. After the members were selected and began singing, the nine-man group became an instant hit on campus, selling out its very first concert. The group made its first recording (“If Rocks Could Sing”) and went on its first tour that same year.
With Ahlander and Boyce providing the vision, and Lex providing much-needed musical direction, the first three years proved equally successful for the student-run group. They toured several times and released their first full-length CD, “(Instruments Not Included)”. The group was so popular that the Director of the School of Music at BYU thought it should be an official part of the University. Finally, in Fall 1994, the ensemble was adopted into the School of Music, and Jim Anglesey was appointed as the group’s Faculty Advisor. This was an important move for the group, as it ensured its longevity, and allowed for a full-time director, access to BYU’s marvelous performing venues, and assistance from the staff of the School of Music and Performing Arts Management..
The Jim Anglesey Years
During Anglesey’s seven year stay as director, Vocal Point released two more albums, “Fatter Than Ever” in 1996 and “Mouthing Off” in 1999. The group had several key performances during this time, including a series of successful concerts in the de Jong Concert Hall on BYU campus, as well as the group’s first New Year’s Eve performance at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
In 2001, co-founder Bob Ahlander returned to the scene to take the reins as director of Vocal Point. He started his tenure off with a bang, hosting the group’s ten-year anniversary celebration, including a successful alumni reunion concert. Shortly thereafter, the group released its fourth CD, “Grand Slam”, which represented the final years of the Anglesey-directed group.
During Ahlander’s time as director, Vocal Point reached new heights. They twice won the regional semi-finals for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but refused to take their seats at the international finals in New York City because the event would be held on a Sunday. The group performed the national anthem at multiple Utah Jazz games and other venues. In Ahlander’s final weeks as director, Vocal Point spent three weeks in Nauvoo, Illinois, opening the new summer performing arts series there, and performing for thousands of visitors over a three-week run. At the group’s final performance of the tour, they sang to a completely full house, giving them the idea for the name of their upcoming album, “Standing Room Only”. That CD was released in Fall 2004, representing Ahlander’s three years of work as director.
Stevens Takes the reins
Next on the directorial stage was James Stevens, a BYU grad and studio engineer who had performed with Vocal Point for two years under Bob Ahlander’s direction. Stevens quickly got to work, helping the group sell out the de Jong Concert Hall faster than ever. At the end of that year, the group took home three Pearl Awards from the Faith Centered Music Association for “Sacred Recorded Song of the Year,” “Group Recording Artist of the Year” and “Performing Artist of the Year.”
The following year, 2005-06, was a banner year for Vocal Point. The group appeared at BYU’s well-known Homecoming Spectacular, as well as its first at BYU devotional. The group also hosted a successful celebration in honor of Vocal Point’s 15th Anniversary. As a culmination of the group’s success, they again won the regional semi-finals in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but this time did not have to bow out; the finals were to be held on a Saturday. The group took its first tour to New York City, and competed there with some of the world’s best collegiate a cappella ensembles in the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. In its first ever appearance at the finals, and after winning regional competition three times, Vocal Point took first place. They were crowned International Champions for 2006!
The group’s success under James’s leadership didn’t stop there. For the next 6 years, Vocal Point performed in a variety of landmark performances and highlights: first performances at BYU-Idaho (in 2009 and 2011); first BYU football game halftime show; at the Centennial Boy Scouts of America Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia for 80,000 Boy Scouts; the release of their seventh and eighth albums, “Nonstop” and “Back in Blue,” respectively; and another appearance at the ICCA finals in New York City, where Vocal Point won First Runner Up. Most notable was Vocal Point’s performance on NBC’s The Sing-Off, where the 2010-2011 group competed against 15 other A cappella groups in Los Angeles before a panel of celebrity judges. After a wildly popular run on the show in which the group produced all their own arrangements (rather than relying on the show’s in-house music producers), Vocal Point made it to the top 5 and won critical acclaim for their performances.
Crockett's Visionary Lead
After a record-breaking eight years with Stevens at the helm, Vocal Point once again came under the direction of its own: McKay Crockett. Crockett’s four years in VP had provided him plenty of opportunities to hone his leadership and sound engineering skills.
Crockett began a new frontier for Vocal Point. Not only did the group continue to innovate beyond any other group in collegiate a cappella with live performances (including the use of in-ear monitors), but with internet usage as well. Producing digital media content became a focus of the group. The group’s first pop music video, “Brave”, began a string of music videos that launched Vocal Point from a few thousand subscribers in 2012 to over 350K in 2018! The most popular video, “Nearer My God to Thee”, has almost 20 million views.
Along with the videos and accompanying singles, album production took a front seat. VP’s first-ever all-hymns album (“Lead Thou Me On”) was released in October 2012. A year and a half later, “Spectrum” was released, and in 2015, Vocal Point’s very first Christmas album “He is Born” hit the shelves in 2015.