|20170901||Reverend Kate Bottley investigates the growth of professional funeral singers in Britain.|
|20170901||20180327 (R4)||Reverend Kate Bottley investigates the increasing demand for professional funeral singers in Britain.|
Live music has long accompanied the religious and secular farewells to our dear departed but, in the past, was more likely to be a reserved for a select few - Kings, Queens and Archbishops with a cathedral choir singing a requiem mass to send them on their way.
In the 19th Century, some ordinary people decided that what was good enough for the gentry was good enough for them and a diluted version of this practice spread to churches, with a choir singing a favourite hymn or two.
In more recent times, sophisticated sound equipment has meant that any song - usually performed by the artist that wrote it or made it famous - could be played at a church service or crematorium funeral. Favourites include My Way, Wind Beneath My Wings and Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.
But today, a simple CD is not enough for an increasing number of mourners. Only a live singer will do to mark the passing of their loved ones. Funeral singer websites and booking agencies - often a spin off from wedding singer providers - are proliferating.
Kate Bottley talks to agencies catering for this growth in demand, the singers, bereaved family members, funeral directors, clergy, academics and others - to discover why it seems that, increasingly, only live music is good enough to say a memorable farewell to people who cannot hear the performance, and what this says about death in Britain today.
A Butterfly Wings production for BBC Radio 4.
Reverend Kate Bottley investigates the growth of professional funeral singers in Britain.