The sound of the human voice can be soothing and healing. While comforting mourners, a live vocal performance at a funeral can be a beautiful tribute to a departed loved one. But when the time comes, how do you actually go about the process of choosing a funeral singer?
If you live in a large city or metropolitan area, finding a professional funeral singer may be as simple as making a few calls. In addition to singers who specialize in funerals, church soloists, wedding singers, and vocal teachers often perform at funerals. Keep in mind that it’s always best to find someone with specific experience performing at funerals. A singer who is not familiar with funerals, even if he or she didn’t know the deceased, may become emotionally involved in the service and be unable to perform.
Funeral directors and clergy often maintain a roster of singers available for you to choose from. Make sure that whoever provides you with the recommendation is familiar with the singer’s work. Don’t hesitate to ask questions such as:
- How many times have they worked with the singer?
- What is his or her professional background?
- Does the singer have a specialty?
- Can the singer provide accompaniment?
Many singers have websites that include samples of his/her singing, photos, and testimonials from past clients. You shouldn’t hesitate to request references if you have any concerns or questions.
Should a family friend or member sing at the funeral?
If you have a close friend or family member with singing experience who may be willing to perform, this can add a wonderful personal touch to the service. However, unless you are quite familiar with their abilities and you know they have sung at funerals before, it can also be quite risky. Grief can overcome even the most professional family singer at unexpected times. You run the risk that he or she will be unable to complete the performance. It is almost always best to use a professional singer, particularly someone who has experience performing at funerals. If you do decide to go with a friend or family member, be sure to ask the same questions you would of a professional.
A professional funeral singer will be familiar with the way a funeral service works and can provide you with a selection of music to choose from. If the type of music you would like is not in their usual repertoire, you may be expected to pay an additional fee. If you would like the singing to be in a language other than English, be sure to find out if he or she is familiar with that language, or is able to learn well from a recording and the printed words. English, French, and Italian are the most common singing languages but you may be able to find a wider variety in your particular area.
If someone volunteers for the job and you are uncomfortable with the choice, do not hesitate to graciously tell them “thank you, but no thank you.” If you remind them that the service is a time of mourning for everyone and that you would like them to participate as a family member, they are likely to understand. They may, in fact, be relieved.
Costs and Fees for Funeral Singers
Costs for funeral singers vary widely but you can expect to pay between $100 and $200, depending on how many songs you select. You may also pay a fee for an accompanist, sound equipment, and other items that may be needed.
Communicating what you want to the funeral director, the funeral singer, and anyone else involved in the process is critical to ensuring that the experience is a good one. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in the time you have to plan the service. Ask questions, listen to the advice the professionals give you and try your best to keep a clear head.