Penelope Shipley and BrionyRawle are a familiar face of the people that mourn over their loved ones in their coffins or their cremation urns, being the founders of The London Funeral Singers, a business that provides funeral singers for services across the UK.
Both of them founded the business back in 2015. Both of them were, at the time, struggling actors with backgrounds in music, and Penelope says that she got the idea because she sang quite a bit for the funerals of family members. Thinking that she could do it for other people, she pitched the idea to BrionyRawle, and the business was born.
She explains that it’s a pragmatic idea, as people don’t really sing in churches much now, which is where their service comes in. Additionally, she’s noted that, when people look at their loved one in a coffin or in their cremation urns, they hold back until the music comes in, which made her think that there’s a business in funeral music.
Pricing starts at £190 for a soloist that’ll lead the congregation for two hymns. Pricing depends on the number of singers, the kind and amount of music for the service, whether the singers will perform alone or leading a congregation and how much prep is needed. A bespoke arrangement is also available.
Penelope and Briony has noted that they’ve seen an increase in business by 250% in 2018, the third year of their business, whilst the prior year was sporadic.
The company’s marked by their silver peace lily brooches, worn by all their singers, which now number in the 50s, with singers covering classical, gospel, jazz and musical theatre. Recruitment is done via accepting CVs from recruits, then having them do an audition which consists of, among other things, harmony work and checking their vocal range.
Penelope says that they meet up with every singer they recruit so that they know who these people are. Their job demands the right mix of professionalism, compassion and empathy, and everyone that comes in inflects on these ideas differently. Penelope says that the key to the business is finding the right singer to sing the right song.