Chugiak grad makes TV debut

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 05:10
Mike Christensen credits Chugiak choir with helping him make the leap to stardom
2004 Chugiak High graduate Mike Christensen (back row, second from right) is seen in this publicity photo along with members of his a capella group, Vocal Point. The group will make their national television debut on Monday, Sept. 19 on NBC at 8 p.m. in the season premier of "The Sing Off."

Chugiak-Eagle River Star

On Monday night, the world got to hear what folks in Chugiak have known for a long, long time.

Mike Christensen can really sing.

Christensen, a 2004 Chugiak High graduate, made his national television debut at 8 p.m. Monday night on NBC’s “The Sing Off,” an elimination-style reality show featuring some of the nation’s top vocal ensembles.

His mom couldn’t be more proud.

“We are really excited about it,” said Shauna Christensen, who said before the show that she’s was encouraging all of Eagle River to tune in. “I’ve been spreading the word.”

Michael is currently a senior at Brigham Young University, where last year he was invited to join Vocal Point, a 9-man a capella singing group that has earned national recognition for its up-tempo harmonies. In April, the group earned second place at the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella at Lincoln Center in New York City.

That performance caught the eye of NBC talent scouts, who invited Vocal Point to be one of 16 groups to compete in the upcoming Season 3 of the show. 

“They actually came to us,” Christensen, 25, said from Provo, Utah last week.

Although groups are voted off the show each week, Christensen isn’t allowed to say where Vocal Point finished in the standings. But he did let slip that the group definitely spent more one week taping shows in Los Angeles.

“It got pretty busy, especially as the weeks went on,” he said.

Christensen said group members spent up to 15 hours a day rehearsing for the weekly tapings, which also include a group number featuring all the groups on the show.

“It was a lot busier than I thought it would be,” he said.

For someone who grew up performing, though, the long days were pure harmony.

“It was a blast,” he said.

The show is guaranteed to get big ratings just among the Christensen family, which includes Shauna, husband Val, and their eight kids.

“Michael is number five,” Shauna said.

Shauna said most of her children are musically inclined, but Mike’s passion for singing has always been evident.

“He was singing before he could talk,” Shauna said.

As he grew up, “Mikey” continued to sing, eventually landing at Chugiak High, where as a senior he was one of the lead soloists for the school’s prestigious swing choir.

For his high school graduation, he didn’t ask for a car or a trip to Europe. Instead, he begged Shauna and Val for money to get into a recording studio.

“That’s all he wanted as a gift,” she said.

Ron Lange, who still teaches choir at Chugiak, said he wasn’t surprised a bit when he found out Mike was going to be featured on television.

“Not a bit,” Lange said from the Chugiak choir room last week. “He was quite the musician when he was here.”

Last week, Lange said he and most of his choir students planned to tune in for Christensen’s debut.

“We put it down on the calendar,” Lange said. “It’s on the board.”

Now back in Provo with his wife, Amanda, Michael Christensen credited his time in the Chugiak swing choir with helping him pefect not only his singing, but his stage presence as well.

“”It was learning how to not just sing wll but put a smile on your face and perform,” he said.

Christensen, who is finishing up his degree in property management this spring, said he probably won’t make a career out of music. But getting to be on a hit television show definitely ranks up there among his all-time favorite moments.

“It was very busy but very fun,” he said. “Definitely something that was fun to live once.”

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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