SVI Media, based in Afton, WY, is a multimedia company that produces local content via newspaper, internet, terrestrial radio, and video. In 2016, SVI Media General Manager Duke Dance and Video Director David Cazier wanted to bring the excitement of a live singing competition to the small community of Star Valley, WY. Basing the concept from reality TV's "American Idol", Dance and Cazier named the event "Swift Idol", with a nod to one of SVI Media's radio stations, Swift 98.7 FM. The first event called for a grand prize of $500, and garnered a few local talented singers to participate.
As the years came and went, the event continued to grow in popularity. In 2019, the event starred during the Lincoln County Fair as a main event, with a grand prize of $5,000, followed by a grand prize of $10,000 in 2020 and 2021. Each year, auditions from all over the continental US pours in with amazing talent, all willing to put their best singing abilities on the line for the title and prize.
SVI Media was notified in 2020 about a breach of copyright to the name "Swift Idol", and a cease and desist order was issued. SVI Media complied, and after a lengthy search, "The Vocalist" emerged as the new name for the singing competition.
Other events, such as "The Teen Vocalist" and "The Vocalist Wildcard" have spun off of the original show, making the event a popular one in the Rocky Mountain west region.
Celebrities such as Alex Boye, David Archuleta, and Darci Lynne have appeared as guest judges and performed during the competitions, and America's Got Talent contestant and country singer Chris Petersenhas been announced as the celebrity guest judge for The Vocalist 2023.
As for the future? SVI Media has confirmed at least ten seasons of the competition, with the eighth season happening August 5th, 2023 as part of the Lincoln County Fair in Afton, Wyoming.
August 5, 2023 - Lincoln County Fair
$10,000 grand prize to the winner, with Chris Petersen as the celebrity guest judge! Auditions close May 20, 2023 at 11:59 PM.
April 21, 2023 - Star Valley High School
$1,000 prize to the winner and the announcement of the new celebrity judge for The Vocalist 2023, and all exclusively for Star Valley, Wyoming youth!