Sing Montana! Troubadours

Now Forming! Looking for 4 Christmas soloists.

Troubadours is a startup venture for Sing Montana!, and we’re getting it kicked off with our upcoming 3rd annual Montana Christmas! show, where we’re incorporating several solo and small-ensemble pieces.

If you’re interested in Troubadours, please read this entire page carefully, and then contact Jack Pelham right away for more information! (406) 696-4435.

About Troubadours

Our vision for Troubadours is this: We want to recruit a troupe of a dozen or more really good solo singers―of the sort that the general public will really want to hear sing again. The troupe will perform once a month or so in such venues as these:

  • Restaurants
  • Clubs
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Public Events (street festivals, for example)
  • Schools

And Troubadours will probably have at least one show of their own (think October-ish) in a nice Billings venue. (Freedom Choir would likely join them on this show, performing 3-or-so numbers of their own―and Freedom Choir might well borrow some Troubadours now and then to sing solos in the two big Freedom Choir annual concerts (Montana Christmas! in December, and Sing Montana! in May.)

Why Start Troubadours?

We know there are many good soloists in town, most of whom don’t have much of an outlet for it. You could organize your own 10-number recital and get an accompanist, and do all the publicity and ticket sales, but who’s got the time for that??? But if you join Troubadours, you could plan to sing even just one song in one of our regular gigs―or maybe 3 or 4. It’s your call. We just have to be sure we have enough songs to fill a program.

And we’ll have to figure out some rules about it, but we know ahead of time that we’re not going to demand that every Troubadour be available to sing at each monthly show. So perhaps we need more like 24 than 12―or to have two separate troupes, even, who can borrow singers from each other as needed to fill a program.

Our Mission at Sing Montana! is generally to teach people to sing, and to provide opportunities for them to do it. We’re pretty sure there are enough people in the Billings market who’d love to do this if we can get word out, so we’re going to give it a whirl! And we’re using this Christmas show to get together a small group, whom we hope can become the core group to start Troubadours’ first full semester in January.

How Does It Work?

We want to start small-ish with a core charter group of singers who are skilled, fun, and reliable. And from that group, we’ll figure out more about all this. But for starters, here’s the concept:

We’ll need to find out for sure who’s got the right stuff. This includes singing skills, of course, but it also includes figuring out whether this is really the right season in your life for you to be an effective and reliable member of an excellent team. (Some will go nuts at the chance to sing, but aren’t really in a place where they can be counted on to be there―or to be there on time―so even if their singing is great, they end up being a drain on the group overall, and we’d just rather wait until it’s a better season in their life before we bring them onboard.) Hence, the audition/interview.

We could possibly arrange to meet elsewhere, but in general, you should plan on auditioning in Jack and Kay Pelham’s music studio in Laurel, MT, 15 minutes from Billings. (Feel free to bring a friend or family member if you like!) We’ll need to arrange for an accompanist, (and perhaps Kay can do it if the timing works out). Also, you’ll need to have a piano score in advance for your audition song. (You can sing a second song if you like―particularly if it’s in a different style from the first.) You’ll sing first , and then we’ll talk about your life situation and about the overall outlook for what Troubadours will be like. If at the end of all that, it sounds like you’re a good match for Troubadours and Troubadours is a good match for you, we’ll invite you to be a member. (See about fees below.)

We’ll have rehearsal nights periodically―somewhere between once a week and once a month (to be determined after we see how it goes). At that meeting, the singers will perform (with accompaniment) for the rest of the Troubadours, and whatever songs are good enough to win the approval of the Director, will be cleared for performance, and included in the next available performance date. (Our gigs will need to fill anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours of music.) Rehearsals are expected to be a fun and inspiring event in their own right. The kinds of singers we want will be happy to get to perform in front of friends, who can give feedback on whether a certain song is “working” or not. And the director, Jack Pelham, will be present for coaching as needed to make the best of each song. We’ll hope to find an affordable rehearsal venue in Billings, but may sometimes (in the beginning, at least) need to rehearse at the Pelham studio in Laurel.

There’ll be no fee for those few who are chosen for the Christmas show, but starting in January, it’s expected that Troubadours will pay a participation fee of $100 per semester, just like Freedom Choir and Youth Choir members do. That fee will cover a t-shirt and rental for whatever facility we end up rehearsing in if we end up getting enough members.

Some gigs we sing, such as in restaurants, clubs, or assisted living facilities, may likely pay a fee for our services. These funds will go to Sing Montana!, however, and not to the singers. The way we see it, we’re providing a unique opportunity for soloists to sing without all the hassle, so anytime Sing Montana! can bring some much-needed revenue into our non-profit corporation, that’s a win/win venture for those who got to sing. (For example, we make revenue from ticket sales at our concerts, but the Freedom Choir members don’t get paid for it. Rather, that money goes to support concert expenses, new equipment, and a gas-money stipend for the volunteer director.)

Generally, we’re open to singers performing songs that do well with piano or guitar accompaniment, and do not necessarily need a microphone to be heard. That’s not to say that we won’t use mics, mind you, because we will. Rather, it’s more the full-voice sound that we want. The styles we’re interested in performing are ones like these (in no particular order):

  • Broadway / Show Tunes
  • Jazz
  • “Standards”
  • Ballads / Love songs
  • Folk
  • Country
  • Swing
  • Easy Rock
  • Art Songs
  • Arias
  • Historic Troubadour repertoire
  • Madrigals

Once you’re in, perhaps you can convince us to do something more, but these are our target styles.

We realize that when we get all that talent in one room, a duet or trio might break out on occasion, and that sounds great to us! Who knows―maybe the whole cast takes a notion to get a show tune together in 4 parts. As long as it’s excellent, let’s do it! (Not every venue we sing in may have room for that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.)

Each troupe probably needs about a dozen singers and at least two pianists (if not a handful) , along with one or two guitarists. If we have fewer than that, it’s probably going to put too heavy a burden on each accompanist. Those who can accompany themselves on piano or guitar are also welcome! The accompanists, like the singers, will pay fees, and will get t-shirts, too.

Troubadours is for adults, from 16 years old and up. We say it like that to emphasize that we want people who act like adults, and will go as low as 16 years old. There is no upper age limit, though nature tends to weaken a voice at some point―so that’s really a matter for the audition, rather than for an official age policy. (Minors may only join with a guardian’s permission.)

Each Troubadour will be expected to sign and adhere to an official Code of Conduct, so that everyone knows up front what behaviors are to typify the group.

Each member will sign a media waiver, giving up any claim against Sing Montana! using their pictures, videos, audio recordings, or other media in it’s own promotion, such as on this website, or in social media or TV/radio ads. This way, we can promote all the Sing Montana! ensembles and activities to the public easily and without complication.

We’re sure there’s much more to be discussed, and we’ll look forward to doing that before the end of 2023. In the mean time, though, we’re hoping to get a core team going with those wanting to audition a solo for Christmas. Preference will be given on the solos to singers who think they’d like to stick around in Troubadours beyond Christmas, though if we don’t get enough of those people, and some firecracker soloist wants a shot at the Christmas show, we’re OK with that!

At Sing Montana!, we’re big on good communication. If you want to make a good impression, call us, having already studied this page―or either, write us requesting to set up a phone call appointment. You may also write, of course, simply to ask questions, too. But we really hope you are quite familiar with what’s on this present page before you call!

Contact Jack Pelham via email or
call him at (406) 696-4435.