BY HAILEY MINTON
Northern Utah’s Vocal Motion Show Choir represented the US in the eleventh World Peace Choral Festival last month which was held virtually. They showed several of Vocal Motion’s music videos, one of which was their rendition of Shawn Mendes’ song “Wonder.”
The creators behind the group are Melissa Chertudi, Kaitlan Toole, Brittany Bennett, and Brita Miles. Melissa and Kaitlan are sisters. Melissa put her talent and energy into the choir at Lomond View Elementary about ten years ago, and it grew from 60 kids to 240 kids. She and her team of directors have been instrumental in the program’s success. Families were reaching out to her, wanting their kids to get involved with the choir, but age and school boundaries limited who could participate. The choir only involved kids from fourth to sixth grade. Melissa worked with her sister Kaitlan, who works at North Ogden Elementary, and got both schools performing very similar shows.
Brittany attended one of these performances to watch her son, and the caliber of performance was not what she was expecting. She was drawn to contribute her own skills and use her education in music and experience as a musician to add to what she saw. Brittany eventually became a co-director with Melissa at Lomond View.
Melissa and Brita’s paths first crossed when they were both involved in the cultural celebration performance for the dedication of the Ogden Utah Temple in 2014. Brita was the head music director for the performance, which involved the participation of 16,000 youth. She coordinated with 74 stake music directors, and Melissa was one of them. Brita wrote original music for the program, and Melissa saw how well Brita interacted with and taught teenagers. Melissa knew Brita’s talents would contribute to their vision of what they could bring to the community.
All of them had a spark of desire for something more. They knew they could contribute their talents to create something bigger and more inclusive to children ranging from ages eight to 18. They could now involve the students who participated in the elementary programs but had since moved on to Junior High or High School.
In January of 2020, they decided to create Vocal Motion. They were working on the business in preparation to launch right before the pandemic shut things down. They still opened for auditions in June and were hopeful they could get 40 to 50 kids. Because they were a private business, they left involvement up to the discretion of parents and youth. The response was greater than anticipated. By September, 180 kids had signed up.
“It was a bright spot for these kids in 2020,” said Brita. It really made a difference to them being involved in something like this during a year where practically everything was canceled. They shared their performances via video, and that is how the World Peace Choral Festival found them. They also digitally participated in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Christmas Devotional. Going digital helped them shift in a way that really expanded their reach, and they plan to include music videos in their performances in the future. They also plan to expand their program to Utah Valley in January 2022.