Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. I commonly sing for funerals and weddings. I have also performed a cappella (without accompaniment) at graveside for funerals on many occasions. I have also performed for special occasions like anniversaries and holiday parties. For most of these, I also attend rehearsals with the accompanist(s) as needed.
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. Most recently I sang a solo for a church service (How Great Thou Art); I performed for a funeral (The Lord's Prayer and Eagle's Wings) and sang a duet and a solo for a wedding (The Prayer by Celine Dion/Andre Bocelli and Ave Maria). I have also performed country, musical theater, folk, bluegrass, pop, and classical music. I have also recently performed "From This Moment" by Shania Twain and even Keith Urban's "Your Everything." I enjoy meeting your needs no matter how unusual they are. Even if the song was originally performed by a man, I can usually make it work for your event.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. I would advise anyone looking for a singer to hire someone who has a great deal of experience singing for that particular type of event. I would also look for someone with a voice degree who can read music in case you need the singer to learn a song quickly. The trained singer will also have an easier time following anyone that you choose to have accompany. It's also a good idea to listen to at least one unaltered recording of that person in a live performance.
You will also generally receive better service with more notice - especially if you need the singer to learn new material.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. A professional has resources that the average person may not have. Many times I can find songs that others can't access. I also am able to transpose songs into the desired key for the accompanist. Also, a trained singer can perform any song with success while an untrained singer will be limited in the number of songs he or she can pull off.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. 1. What is your experience with this type of job?
2. Do you have a degree or degrees in music? If so, what kind(s)?
3. What accompaniment do you prefer?
4. Do you have song suggestions?
5. Are you open to songs that you don't know?
6. Do you have a live recording you could share?
7. What do you charge? Is there a deposit needed?
8. Are you available for a rehearsal and the performance?
9. Can you recommend accompanists that you like to work with?
10. (If a duet is requested...) Are there singers that you prefer to work with?
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. Consider what music and how much music you want to be performed. If you are not sure, that's OK. A trained professional will be able to provide you with many ideas. Also consider how much you have to spend. A trained, professional singer will typically charge $200 or more for a wedding or funeral service. For a reception, expect to pay at least $400. Also think about what type of singer you prefer. I am a soprano, but can also sing in an alto range. I am also most comfortable singing classical, traditional hymns, contemporary Christian, country, and pop or musical theater.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. I have 17 years of performance experience including live performances and a lead-vocal performance in a local film (http://www.readysetk.org/previews.html).
I also have a degree in voice. I am very professional and easy to work with. In the case of a funeral, I am happy to do whatever I can to provide the family with comfort and musically meet their needs as well. On occasion, I've conducted extensive web searches to find sheet music for songs that are out of print so that I could sing them for someone's funeral. I am also able to transpose songs into a key that works for me. I recently sang a song for a wedding that was originally performed by a male country artist. I just changed the key and it worked. I have also helped people find other musicians and/or appropriate accompaniment tracks to make their events complete.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I like honoring the wishes of the families and those departed in the case of funerals. It is a privilege to sing a beautiful farewell to someone's loved one. For weddings, I love that I'm able to pretty much do things that the couple imagined would not be possible. That always tickles me since I love a challenge. :)
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Most commonly, customers ask for advice regarding song selection. I usually find out what type of music they prefer first and then provide them with a list of options including recordings if they are not familiar with their choices. They also ask for help finding a good pianist or organist. I am always able to refer them to awesome people!
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. I once had a couple who wanted "The Prayer" by Celine Dion and Andre Bocelli for their wedding, but they didn't like the part in Italian. Through a lot of research, I was able to find an English version of that portion of the song that was beautiful! The couple was ecstatic and I've actually performed that version several times since.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. When planning an event, people usually just think about cost (the cheaper the better) and what the potential singer sounds like. Unfortunately, the day of the event, most people realize that they would have paid a lot more to have someone reliable who can do a professional job that they don't have to worry about. There are many great voices out there who may not give you the confidence that you deserve on your special day or on the day that you lay your loved one to rest. It is best to hire a professional that you can rely on to show up prepared and professionally dressed who will be low maintenance and do a great job for you.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I have wanted to be a singer since I was 5 years old. In school, I sang a lot of solos in plays, concerts, recitals and at family gatherings. It seemed a natural progression that I would study voice in college to teach, conduct and perform vocally. I eventually became music director at a church and performed for almost all of the weddings and funerals held there for 17 years.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. My hair dresser recently got married. Around the time she was planning her wedding, I was getting my hair cut and she was sharing with me how her friend had said she would sing, but at the last minute wanted to back out because she wasn't comfortable with the song that the couple wanted. I told her that I could do it for her. I transposed the song and accompanied myself on the guitar. Problem solved.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. Just like a fit person needs a personal trainer to stay in shape, a singer is smart to do the same. I periodically go to a renowned vocal instructor for tune ups. :)
Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?
A. The latest and greatest development is that you can find the sheet music for almost any song online. You can also transpose most songs into any key which means that a trained soloist might be able to sing a song that might not normally be suited to his or her voice. Also, many popular songs have accompaniment tracks available. While a live accompanist is usually best, in a pinch, an accompaniment track is a great affordable option.
Q. Describe your most recent project, what it involved, how much it cost, and how long it took.
A. I recently sang for my brother's wedding. I learned the one song they wanted on my own, attended one rehearsal, and sang at the wedding. I performed for free. :) To learn the song, travel, attend the rehearsal and wedding totaled 9 hours (one hour to learn the song and rehearse it on my own including memorization, 7 hours of total travel time and one hour for rehearsal and one for the wedding).
Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.
A. Prices for services vary from $100 to $400 depending on the number of rehearsals required, the number of songs to be performed, and the amount of travel involved. I always try to fit within your budget if possible.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. I would advise anyone wanting to sing professionally, to take private voice lessons from a reputable teacher and if possible, to get a degree in music with a concentration in voice. I would also suggest that anyone wanting to sing professionally should sing for free whenever possible until he or she gains enough experience to be paid.
It is also a good idea to record your performances so that you can show the client what you're capable of. Posting on Youtube is a great way to showcase your skills.
Q. What is your greatest strength?
A. I am always professional and reliable. I once was singing for a wedding and while the couple was lighting the unity candle, the entire candelabra caught fire. I was singing in front of it, so I had no idea what was going on. The couple started laughing trying to put the fire out and then the guests started chuckling too. I kept right on singing and it wasn't until after the ceremony that I found out what had actually happened.
Also, I show up when I say I will show up. No one deserves to stress about the reliability of musicians at times as important as weddings and funerals.
I am also very easy to get along with. As long as it doesn't compromise the performance or integrity of the song, I'm happy to make the changes that you desire. I enjoy collaborating with other musicians and am happy to sing with or for anyone - trained or untrained.
Q. What are you currently working on improving?
A. I am constantly practicing and working on building my repertoire of songs. I am recently becoming more comfortable with the lower end of my range including low alto notes.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. What are some of the pitfalls associated with music and weddings or funerals?
• I once listened to a free soloist at an event who sang in a different key than the accompanist for the whole event. She was a lovely person, but was unprepared for the difficulty of the song requested.
• On MANY occasions I have bailed someone out whose friend or relative said they would sing for their wedding or funeral and then they backed out at the last minute. Yikes!
• A bad accompanist can ruin a good singer. I had to sing for a relative's wedding once. They were required to use the church organist since they were using the church's space. He couldn't play the arrangement that I had brought of Shania Twain's "From This Moment." Luckily, I had purchased an accompaniment track of the song as a backup. Whew!
• Be sure that the space is either acoustically live enough to support a singer with no microphone OR that you have secured someone to run the sound board and set up the equipment for the event. If you are a member of a church and the event is at the church, this is usually free; if not, you may have to pay for the service.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. What churches and languages are you comfortable working in?
I am comfortable with all religions, but know more Christian-based as well as secular literature. I have performed in Latin, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. What do you wear for these events?
For funerals, I wear all black unless requested to do otherwise. Usually I wear a dress or a suit. For weddings, I wear whatever the couple requests. If you have a color scheme, I will abide by it. If you have a theme wedding, I'm in! :)