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Everything You'll Ever Need To Know About Booking Vocal Groups & Choirs

Everything You'll Ever Need To Know About Booking Vocal Groups & Choirs

Whether you want terrific voices to raise the roof with song, or corporate entertainment that sings your product's praises, vocal groups and choirs are a natural choice.

What Is A Vocal Group Or Choir?

A vocal group is exactly what it says on the tin, a group of singers, but the style of music they sing can vary enormously from early music to doo-wop and pop. Vocal groups usually consist of a handful of very talented singers who might take the lead in one song, and then might sing the bass line in the next! They might sing unaccompanied, or without mics, or come with backing tracks or a live band if required.

A choir has a more formal structure than a vocal group, often with the different voice types standing in sections. A choir usually has more members too, and will usually perform unamplified, accompanied by a live pianist, or if singing in church, an organist. Choirs can sing a vast range of music from Christmas carols and gospel to the latest chart hits.

What To Look For In Quality Vocal Acts & Choirs

With such a variety of musical styles on offer, the best vocal group or choir for one event might be totally different to another. You might like a traditional choir for a large church wedding service, for example, but an upbeat 1940s style vocal group for your wedding drinks reception. It also depends on how 'visual' you want your choir or vocal group to be; the more your choir or vocal groups are seen, the more they need to be enjoyable to watch!

So, start by checking out the vocal groups and choirs Profiles here on Alive Network. Straight away you'll get an idea of each group’s style from their photos - formal, vintage, doo-wop, barbershop, etc. Then listen to their demo tracks and the quality of their voices:

  • Do they blend well together?
  • Can you hear and understand the words?
  • Do they offer a range of music?

Now check out any videos the group have made.

  • Will they fit with your type of event?
  • Do they look like they are having fun? (If they are enjoying themselves, so will your guests!)

One point to bear in mind; small vocal groups tend to feature the same performers every booking, but choirs will often change members according to their availability. Chances are, you won't notice the difference, but if you like a particular choir soloist on their demo, for example, just be aware they may not appear in person on the night.

Look too at where and for whom the groups and choirs have sung before; some vocal groups have more experience singing for big corporate events than others, for example. Some have TV experience too: members of vocal group Geekology have appeared in West End shows, were semi finalists in Britain's Got Talent and won on Sky TV's talent show "Don’t Stop Me Now".

What Formats Do Choirs & Vocal Groups Offer?

Let's start with choirs. A choir is defined simply as "An organised company of singers", so in theory, any group of singers is a choir! However, most choirs need at least four members, and usually considerably more, so that they can sing in four-part harmony, as most choral (choir) music is written this way.

So, a small choir for wedding services or carols might have eight members, a big gospel choir around 20 members, and a full-one Welsh male voice choir or mixed voice choir for hire up to 50 members. Most choirs can scale themselves down to fit into smaller spaces, but not all - ask your Alive Network agent for advice if your venue is particularly bijou!

Gospel choirs are usually very flexible; the Celebration Gospel Choir can perform with anything between 4-20 singers, either a capella or with a pianist.

Vocal groups are generally more compact, with up to 8 singers but more usually 3 or 4. Again, it really depends on the type of music they are performing; 1940s "Andrews Sisters" style girl groups will have 3 singers, while barbershop quartets have 4 chaps (usually - ladies do sing barbershop as well!).

What Sort Of Music Will My Vocal Act Or Choir Perform?

Most choirs and vocal groups perform a wide range of music, usually in their particular style. So, while every group may offer to perform contemporary chart hits, their arrangements will all be quite different. Here's a rough guide of what to expect - but expect the unexpected too!

Vintage / World War II Era vocal groups: a trio of talented ladies, vintage costumes, snappy dance moves and all the swing era hits you could possibly want. Think Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, the Puppini Sisters, and classic songs such as "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree”, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Sisters” through to 1950s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”.

Doo-Wop groups: the hottest vocal groups on our books at the moment, these talented groups are sharp suited, upbeat songsters suitable for a whole range of events. Doo-wop is the classic sound of the four member vocal groups of the 1950s and 60s such as the Platters, the Drifters, so expect classic tracks such as “Blue Moon”, “Life Could Be a Dream”, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, and “Goodnight Sweetheart”. Top doo-wop group, The T-Tones also give pop classic the doo-wop treatment, from “Born to be Wild” to “Rehab, “All about the bass” and even Mark Ronson's “Uptown Funk”!

Doo-Wop is a very transferrable genre which easily transfers into any style or era of music and can still be seen quite obviously in the music of contemporary artists such as Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars. For that reason we claim that we are able to cover absolutely any song.

- Stephen, The T-Tones

A capella/acapella groups: ‘a capella’ is music sung without accompaniment, so a capella groups just use their voices - no piano or backing tracks. The term ‘a capella’ is Italian, meaning in church or chapel style. It’s also how you should spell it - a capella - but today most people type it as acapella. Today's acapella groups sing a vast variety of music, often with their own twist. VoxBox features five singers and a vocal percussionist/beatboxer for a sound that you can’t believe is created just from voices alone. Their repertoire includes James Bond themes, a hip hop medley, Beatles classics, through to “I Think I Wanna Marry You”, and “Blurred Lines”!

Classical vocal groups: these groups are halfway between a vocal group and choir in both style and numbers. So, they can perform religious choral music for weddings, classical or operatic items, and them move into music theatre and pop. Company of Singers, for example, are all ex-choral scholars, so they are trained in that particular clear, crisp sound, and they bring that same clarity and precision to their more popular numbers. For your wedding servcie they might sing Bach's “Jesu joy of man's desiring”, Franck's “Panis Angelicus”, Rutter's “The Lord bless you and keep you” and Wagner's “Bridal Chorus”. Then at the drinks reception, they might delight with songs from shows such as The Lion King and Phantom, mixed with a bit of Beach Boys, Beatles and maybe some popular opera too!

Gospel choirs: Gospel choirs specialise in the energetic, exuberant gospel sound that sings praise out loud and proud! Expect classic gospel numbers including “O Happy Day”, “Amazing Grace”, “Highway to Heaven” and gospel-inspired pop such as “I will Follow Him” and “Bridge over Troubled Water”. Most gospel choirs just love to sing pop songs with a gospel twist. UK Gospel Choir include some classic pop in their set too, from Jackie Wilson's “Lifting me Higher”, and Eva Cassidy's “Songbird” to Des'ree's “Kissing You” and Pharell's “Happy”.

Barbershop groups: Good barbershop singing is a true thing of beauty, four (or more) voices creating close-knit harmonies that crunch and bunch into a sound that just makes you smile! Again, barbershoppers are repertoire thieves, and will sing a whole range of songs from all eras, from classic barbershop numbers such as “Sweet Georgia Brown” to 1950s hits such as “Mr Sandman”, to modern classics given a straw boater and striped waistcoat makeover! Check out Harmony Barbershop Quartet!

Contemporary vocal groups: sometimes called 'crossover', these groups break the boundaries between classical singing and contemporary pop. Think Blake, Il Divo, and then mix in the Spice Girls, Little Mix and more, and you'll be getting close! Sometimes a capella, sometimes accompanied, these groups are always great to listen to and usually gorgeous to look at. You name it, they probably sing it, from Adele to Amy Winehouse, The Beatles to Michale Bublé, opera to West End.

What Equipment Will My Choir Or Vocal Group Require?

Most vocal groups and choirs come with the bare minimum of kit, sometimes just themselves! Depending on your venue and type of event, you might need to provide some extras, such as sound amplification, lighting, staging and seating. As a rule of thumb,

  • Always ask about amplification and sound system requirements
  • Assume you'll need to provide lighting for a vocal group show
  • Don't worry about staging or chairs unless booking a big group
  • Check if they bring a piano or a band

Acapella groups and barbershop groups usually sing unaccompanied, and often unamplified (acoustic). For any acoustic performances, you should provide a space where the voices can be heard and 'ring' a little to give the best sound quality. For larger spaces, acapella groups should be gently amplified to ensure they are not lost - ask your Alive Network consultant for advice as you may be required to provide suitable mics and amplifications.

The same applies to choirs, although they generally make more volume of noise! Most choirs won't require amplification for individual voices, just sound reinforcement consisting of mics that cover the entire choir if singing in large spaces or outside. If the conductor wants to introduce numbers they may use their own microphone. These requirements very much depends on your venue and the choir size - again, feel free to ring and discuss your requirements and your space. Choirs that work with a pianist will usually provide their own digital piano, or can use a piano in your venue if you have one - check their Profile for more details.

1940s girl vocal groups and contemporary vocal groups usually come with backing tracks or a live band, and use vintage style mics for that authentic look and sound. They will therefore bring the same set up as a band in terms of sound systems, etc, but are unlikely to bring any lighting. Doo-wop groups may sing unaccompanied (acapella) or use mics and a PA system - it does depend on the space and the group.

We are used to projecting our voices but it's worth getting in touch with Alive to discuss what you are trying to achieve and whether we can satisfy that. For instance, if there are 1,000 people at your event and you want them all to hear us, we would need to use a PA to do that. When it comes to mics, we can use any type. Radio mics give us the chance to move around but we also have our own vintage mics.

- Stephen, The T-Tones

What Space Will My Vocal Group Or Choir Require?

How big is your group?! The more singers, the more space required. Many acapella groups can fit into intimate spaces, since they don't have instruments or sound setups to accommodate. On the other hand, a carefully amplified group can fill a large space with sound and put on a terrific stage show if required. If the group perform dance routines, they will obviously need a little more space and a flayt surface such as a stage or dancefloor.

If your vocal group is the main entertainment for your event, they will definitely benefit from having a raised stage for their performance, so your guests can see them in action more easily. The stage area should be big enough to accommodate all their kit, including sound system if required, but don't assume they will bring their own lighting (see above).

If your vocal group are performing as part of a reception, at a wedding service, or as a 'surprise' flash mob or similar in a corporate setting, they won't need any formal set-up, just enough space to sing, move a bit and not feel cramped! Also consider where they might sound best; alcoves or corners can trap sound and some hotel rooms have the acoustics of a bath sponge, making it tricky to hear if they are too far from the audience. Equally, a big choir in a small registry office can be overwhelming, but four voices in a big church can be stunning.

When it comes to vocal groups, it really does pay to call Alive Network for advice, to make sure you have the perfect match between venue, event, guest numbers and musical style.

What Performance Length Do Vocal Groups & Choirs Offer?

Generally, choirs and vocal groups perform slightly shorter sets than function bands or tribute acts, for example, as it actually takes more concentration from your guests.

  • The Harmony Barbershop Quartet sing up to 60 minutes of music, split into 2 x 30 mins set, or even 3 x 20 mins, great for corporate events.
  • Female classical crossover group Silk offer a show-stopping 25 minute set that moves from Mozart to Muse.
  • The Celebration Gospel Choir usually sing 4-5 songs at a wedding ceremony, up to 45 minutes for a reception, and 2 x 45 min sets for an event.

If you have specific requirements for timings and duration, call Alive Network and ask if your vocal group or choir can oblige - most are very flexible and happy to help.

Some clients book us just to sing one song, others like us to do a couple of sets. We usually perform 2x 30 minute sets but these can be divided up according to your preference. We can do 3x 20minute sets or 4x 15minute sets or for a wedding, you may like us to sing for bridal entrance during signing of register and then do a 20minute set afterwards during photographs and a final one during dessert later on.

- Stephen, The T-Tones

What Options Do Vocal Groups & Choirs Offer?

One of the great joys of vocal groups is their ability to suddenly appear to surprise guests. Some groups offer a ‘singing waiter’ type option, whilst others are available as ‘strolling singers’ for mix and mingle, crowd entertainment or multi-location events such as summer balls.

World War II themed vocal harmony trio The Victory Rolls offer an innovative 45-minute workshop in vocal harmony. The talented trio will split you up and teach each part then bring you all back together for a group performance, ideal for corporate team building events or parties.

Doo-wop boys The T-Tones are happy to stage special events such as flash mobs and bespoke song arrangements:

We have been involved in flash mobs for a long time at Heathrow airport and some of the larger London train stations. We can supply anything from 4 - 50 undercover singers and dancers. We can also offer bespoke arrangements of any songs which might be first dance or a song to walk down the aisle, a corporate jingle, a favourite song for a birthday party or a song with special meaning that a client would like us to sing to prepare for a surprise proposal.

- Stephen, The T-Tones

What Does A Vocal Group Or Choir Cost?

Costs vary according to how many members there are, the kit they bring, and the style of the performance, whether a full stage show with band or unaccompanied, plus the extra factors of experience and specialisation. The prices on the main Vocal Groups, Choirs and Singers page is usually for their standard line-up, with more options to add extras on each act's profile page.

  • A capella vocal trios start from as little as £546, rising to around £750 for unaccompanied singing or with backing tracks.
  • Barbershop quartets charge around £800, with PA system charged extra.
  • Specialist choral groups such as Company of Singers cost around £850 for four singers and a pianist, with each extra singers costing an additional £150.
  • A budget of around £1200 secures a great gospel choir, the glamorous Goldess trio complete with dazzling costumed and fully choreographed show, or a quartet of surprise singing waiters.
  • With a budget of £1500, you can choose from superb modern male vocal groups, plus ‘star’ name such as Geekology and Mediaeval Baebes.

Special requests will of course, be charged extra:

  • The T-Tones will write a corporate jingle for an additional £48, add a DJ set for £98, or arrange a 20 piece flashmob for an extra £2400.
  • The Victory Rolls charge an extra £1080 for a live 6-piece band to accompany them, and an extra £360 for their vocal harmony workshop option.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Booking Vocal Groups & Choirs?

Most vocal groups have very straightforward requirements, often just the very basics, but all will appreciate you thinking about the following before your event:

Welcoming your group: ensure someone is available to meet and greet your vocal act, especially if they are performing in an unusual space and may not know where that is.

Parking space: ensure there is a parking space available as close to the venue entrance as possible, to enable your group to get any equipment in and out safely and quickly.

Nearby power supply: apart from acoustic a capella groups, most vocal performers will require access to 13 amp sockets for their PA system or digital piano.

Dressing rooms: if your vocal group wear costumes, they will require a private space to get changed in and leave their ‘day’ clothes in while they perform. Please don’t ask the performers to change in a toilet, kitchen or chair store - they are professionals and deserve better!

The advantage of booking us is that we don't have many logistics! We use very little room and can often fit into strange spaces, we need very little set up time.”

- Stephen, The T-Tones

Food and soft drinks: if your vocal group are the main entertainment, do offer them a meal between sets or similar. Contrary to popular belief, most professional singers can eat and then sing! Singing burns around 330 calories an hour, on a par with swimming, so chances are, your singers will get hungry. It’s also thirsty work, so do ensure your vocal act has access to at least a litre each of bottled water (still not fizzy) or glasses and jugs of cool tap water. Most vocalists will be pleased with an offer of a beer or glass of wine after their performance, but don’t be surprised if they turn it down - most of them will have to drive home afterwards.

Sound limiters: these devices check the output from live bands. If the noise level exceeds set limits, the device cuts the power. Most vocal groups won’t have any issues with sound limiters unless they bring a live band. Always check in advance if your venue has limiters, and inform Alive Network so your vocal group can adjust their PA equipment or line-up accordingly.

How To Book Your Choir Or Vocal Group From Alive Network

Browse the Vocal Groups & Choirs section main page, which you can sort by popularity, price, location, etc. Simply click on a band that looks fun, and enjoy the demo tracks, videos and photos!

You can add your top choices to your Wish List, get an online quote, do an availability check for your chosen date(s), or just go ahead and click to book your top choice! Remember, if you have any questions, you can call the Alive Network team anytime during office hours.

Once you’ve made a booking, one of the Alive Network team will contact you to double-check details about your venue, your event and what length and format of performance you’d like. They’ll then double-check with the band, and confirm your booking when everything is sorted.

Once your booking is confirmed, you pay a small deposit to Alive Network by credit card, and we then email you a receipt and your contract. Just sign your contract, return it to us and - job done, booking confirmed!

You will be put in contact with the vocal group or their manager about three weeks before the event to discuss final arrangements.