The Vocal Arts Competition was first introduced in 1983 as the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Competition. The 2001 Convention changed the name to the Vocal Arts Competition for Emerging Artists upon joining the National Opera Association to offer additional benefits to the contestants.
The competition is designed to recognize promising young black classical vocalists by providing a performance venue and scholarships. The competition begins on the local club level. The first place district winner competes at the National Convention.