Provo's Covey Center for the Arts auditorium has a pretty big stage -- certainly more than enough room for the nine current members of Noteworthy, BYU's all-girl a cappella group. This Saturday night, though, Noteworthy will be using that space to the fullest.
To celebrate the group's 10th anniversary (and its first album in four years), Noteworthy is hosting an ambitious Covey Center show. Alumni from each of Noteworthy's 10 generations will perform, split up into five different groups. These groups will all combine with the current Noteworthy singers for a few special numbers.
Tatiana Quinn, who took over as Noteworthy's director last year, sang in the group from 2011-2013. She said Saturday's anniversary concert has been a year in the making. A handful of alumni have helped coordinate the show, working with Quinn and a few current members. Noteworthy's new album has been done for a little while, but Quinn said they wanted to release it in conjunction with the show.
"That's four years in the making," Quinn said. "It's about time."
So, what took so long? In a word, funding. Unlike its male a cappella counterpart Vocal Point, Noteworthy is not part of BYU's School of Music, and doesn't receive university funding. The group also plays a lot of volunteer gigs. The new album features four different Noteworthy generations singing a diverse mix of covers, including songs by Katy Perry, Florence + The Machine, and Sara Bareilles.
"We're a self-directed, self-funded group, and producing a CD is quite expensive, so that's been an issue," Quinn said.
While Noteworthy's early years were a tad obscure, the group has propelled itself into the national a cappella spotlight more recently. It won the national collegiate a cappella championship a few years ago, and followed that up in 2009 with a run on NBC's "The Sing-Off." Quinn said social media has helped the group's popularity considerably.
The group has also experienced a lot more turnover than it did initially. Quinn said the lowered LDS mission age has played a big part: Girls now often join Noteworthy as freshmen, then leave at the year's end once they get their mission calls.
Lizzy Early, a Noteworthy member from 2009-2011, witnessed the group's rising prominence. She's taking part in Saturday's show and said it's been fun to see Noteworthy gain an identity and fan base separate from Vocal Point.
"For a long time we were known as the little sisters of Vocal Point, but since we were on 'The Sing-Off' and won the national competition, we've started to become a little more equal," Early said. "Vocal Point will always have their audience, and I think Noteworthy is still trying to find their audience right now -- and I mean that in a great way. We've never viewed it as a competition with Vocal Point."
For members of Noteworthy, the experience has a big impact, and it's not always about music. This was the case for Early. Competing on "The Sing-Off" in 2009, she became fascinated with the show's producers, and changed her major to broadcast journalism with an emphasis in production.
"For me, Noteworthy wasn't so much a musical experience as it was about going to awesome places and meeting awesome people," she said. "It was more of a life thing rather than just singing and dancing."