Many families ask for a choir to sing at a funeral because that’s what everyone has, isn’t it?

Not necessarily. A solo funeral singer (or duo) can be a better option. 

Why have singing at a funeral service?

Singing is a natural ‘fit’ for a funeral service. The sound of the human voice can be soothing and healing. It can bring comfort, joy and solace, and is especially effective as a fitting tribute to a departed loved one. 

So, if you’re looking for live singing for a funeral service, which is best for you, choir or funeral soloist? Here are seven points to bear in mind:

1. Availability On Your Funeral Date

Choir: As funerals are often held during the week, it can be difficult to find a choir available, as many members will be at work or have other commitments. 

Soloist: A professional funeral singer is just that, a professional singer who will be available during the week. Most funeral singers will also travel further afield than a choir.

2. Size and Quality of Sound

Choir: As many church choirs have a large proportion of retired members, who may be available but that equally poses a different problem. Though experienced and keen to perform, many are not very strong singers and can sound somewhat shaky. (Sadly, it’s the nature of how our voices age.) As a result, they often create a rather small sound given the number of people. 

Soloist: A professional singer has the experience, training and vocal ability to make their sound travel to fill a cathedral or large church. They also have the ability to keep the sound personal and intimate, in the smaller locations of crematorium chapels and smaller churches. Whatever the space, rest assured a professional singer will be heard!

3. Cost

Choir: If you are able to locate a professional choir available during the week, or even a volunteer church choir, there will be a cost involved. The more people there are in the choir, the more the fee will be. For professional choirs, fee per singer can be quite considerable.

Soloist: A professional soloist will provide an exceptional sound and good service for less than the cost of a choir. There’s also only one set of travel expenses to pay! So, a soloist can provide good value for money and add that special personal touch to the funeral service, while keeping your funeral costs lower.

4. Sound Samples

Choir: To hear what a choir sounds like, you would usually need to hear them at a church service. Few choirs have web sites, let alone online sound samples, and with not all members able to attend the funeral, they may not sound the same as on a Sunday anyway.

Soloist: A professional singer will have online sound samples for you to hear, so you can listen whenever you like. You’ll also know beforehand how the singer will sound. Their recorded sound will be eclipsed on the day, as a live performance has something ‘extra’ that cannot be captured when listening on a website. 

5. Choice Of Music Available

Choir: A choir will have a standard list of hymns and religious music they sing. This will include anthems and choral items that are sung in harmony. However, choirs are not usually be able to learn a particular request should you have a favourite song you would like sung.

Soloist: The professional singer will usually have a wider selection of music for you to choose from, including popular songs and musical theatre, as well as religious and sacred items. If you have a request that is not in the singer’s current repertoire, they are usually able to locate and learn the music in time for the funeral. Failing that, they should have a suggestion that will be very close to your idea.

6. Funeral Services Not in Church

Choir: Many local church choirs are just that, choirs that sing in one church. They may not be available (or willing) to sing in other churches, or at crematoriums. It’s also worth bearing in mind that crematorium chapels can be smaller spaces, and that a choir will take up a fair amount of room, and that leaves less seats for mourners.

Soloist: A professional soloist will be just as happy to sing in a church as a crematorium, or outside by the graveside in a cemetery, or at a burial ground. If they have their own quality backing tracks and wireless speaker system (as we do), your professional funeral singer should be able to sing accompanied almost anywhere.

7. Covid-19 during 2021

During the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst communal singing is not possible, it is permitted to have professional singers (subject to social distancing).

Choir: Depending on the size of the venue and and number of professional choir members, there may not be enough space to accommodate singers and congregation with social distancing.

Soloist: A professional soloist is much more able to adapt to the space available for social distancing requirements. And unlike many other choirs / singers we at Singers for Funerals maintain wearing a face covering throughout the whole funeral service including when we sing. See our previous blog on singing in a mask

Still Not Sure Which To Choose? Talk to Singers for Funerals

Deciding on a singer rather than the standard choir doesn’t have to be a stressful decision! Singers for Funerals soloists can help celebrate the life of a loved one, creating fond memories with favourite music. We’ve years of experience in performing in churches, in intimate spaces and for outside opera events (unamplified).

Give us a call to discuss your requirements, as and when you need us.