The story behind BYU Vocal Point’s unique collaboration with popular Christian gospel singer Brian Courtney Wilson

At a global moment seemingly defined by uncertainty and peril, many are experiencing fear.

Fear of the pandemic. Fear of losing a job. Fear of losing a loved one or perhaps one’s faith. Fear of each other.

Perhaps the believing lyrics of a song can help remedy those anxieties:

Fear is not welcome in my heart anymore
I’m casting it away
By the power in Your name
Fear is not welcome in my heart anymore

Fans of celebrated contemporary gospel singer Brian Courtney Wilson likely recognize those lines from his single “Fear Is Not Welcome.” And soon a new audience of music lovers will be introduced to the song’s uplifting, Christ-centered message.

Wilson recently traveled to Provo, Utah, to record a newly arranged version of “Fear Is Not Welcome” with Brigham Young University’s male a cappella group Vocal Point. The seven-man student ensemble enjoys a broad following of its own. Its performance of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” has been viewed over 29 million times on YouTube.

Brian Courtney Wilson sings with BYU Vocal Point at June Audio Recording Studios in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Brian Courtney Wilson sings with BYU Vocal Point at June Audio Recording Studios in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“It was a beautiful experience,” said Wilson, when asked about the Feb. 20 recording session. “You could feel that something special was being brewed. I’m looking forward to seeing what fruit it bears.”

The Wilson-Vocal Point “Fear Is Not Welcome” recording — which will be included on Vocal Point’s upcoming album “Grace” — marks a significant and unique musical moment. It’s the first time Vocal Point, which was founded in 1991, has collaborated with an established artist from the contemporary Christian music industry such as Wilson, a multiple Grammy and Dove awards nominee.

Vocal Point artistic director McKay Crockett, who arranged and produced the track, said the collaboration was prompted by a desire to reach across denominational lines and combine voices to sing about Jesus Christ.

“You might not think that these two parties, while similar in many ways, would collaborate,” he said. “They come from different sides of the country, from different faith traditions and maybe have different goals. But it all worked out — and that’s pretty miraculous and special.”

The process of arranging the collaboration happened remarkably fast. Just a few weeks ago, Vocal Point representatives reached out to colleagues in the Christian music industry. The iconic Motown Gospel record label put them in touch with Wilson.

For Crockett, a Wilson-Vocal Point collaboration seemed a harmonious fit.

“Obviously Brian’s talent is through the roof; he has a wonderful, soulfull, beautiful voice,” said Crockett. “But he is also so real and authentic.”

Wilson, meanwhile, admitted he was initially unsure about participating. But after speaking with Crockett and others — “and after listening to what was in my spirit” —  he knew it was the right move.

“And to be frank,” he said, laughing, “I’d never been to Utah. I wanted to see Utah and we had a wonderful time.”

On Feb. 20, Wilson and the Vocal Point performers gathered at June Audio Recording Studios in Provo, Utah, and, well, did what comes naturally — they sang about Christ. 

The recording session was memorable beyond the music. The artists found time to discuss their backgrounds and faith experiences. They asked and answered questions. They discovered commonality through music and their shared testimonies of Christ.

“It’s been great to come together, show solidarity and purpose and find peace and strength through Jesus Christ, who can help us find our way out of  darkness,” said Crockett.

Vocal Point member Jonathan Meyers, a BYU accounting student and a returned missionary who served in Argentina, said singing alongside Wilson was a musical highlight.

“Being in the same room with Brian helped me better understand the essence of his singing,” Meyers said.

“Fear Is Not Welcome” is expected to be one of the anchoring tracks of the “Grace” album, which is expected to be released on Easter weekend and focuses entirely on the mission of Christ. The new album also includes a collaboration with David Archuleta.

“The album is an opportunity to ‘share’ my testimony long after I finish college,” said Meyers.

“Fear Is Not Welcome” holds special meaning for all involved in the recent recording. The song was penned by Christian musician and songwriter Jeff Pardo after brainstorming with Wilson during a past recording project. Wilson was examining ideas on focusing on those things that matter most amid the common distractions of the day.

“One of those distractions is fear — those things that seem to loom large but are actually small in comparison to the providence of God,” Wilson said. “You just have to focus and you have to keep planting your seeds of faith.”

Crockett appreciates how the song acknowledges the reality of fear: “I made a friend of the fear I have been feeling.”

But the song, he added, “also teaches us that we can look to Jesus Christ to get rid of that fear.”

Brian Courtney Wilson chats with members of BYU Vocal Point while recording at June Audio Recording Studios in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Brian Courtney Wilson chats with members of BYU Vocal Point while recording at June Audio Recording Studios in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Crockett believes the “Fear Is Not Welcome” collaboration will allow Vocal Point to connect with audiences far beyond its well-established Latter-day Saint listeners. “We hope it reaches anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, or even just wants to believe in Jesus Christ, and is looking for some happiness during a dark and fearful time.”

Wilson, meanwhile, said the song can bless anyone “willing to admit” that fear is an obstacle to overcome.

“I don’t think everyone is willing to admit that they are fearful. Sometimes they respond to that fear by trying to hide it. That can be destructive. This song is for people who are willing to admit they are dealing with fear … and are willing to cast that burden upon the Lord.”

Now plans are underway to reunite Wilson and Vocal Point to produce a video of “Fear Is Not Welcome” later this year.