Ready to sing!
Kacper, Kavi and Trai Waclawski backed by Russell Male Choir. Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – Always searching for and not always locating new members, the Russell Male Choir recently lowered its age requirement… like, really lowered it!

With most choir members other than youthful director Kacper Waclawski, owner of Russell Music Academy, sporting hair in various shades of grey and white, the sudden presence of blond locks is a startling contrast… not to mention the pint-sized frames of new part-timers Trai, 7, and Kavi, 5.

They’re Kacper’s sons and getting an early introduction into the family business. Dressed in suspenders and red bow ties, they’ve become a hit on RMC’s circuit of seniors’ residences and nursing homes in the greater Ottawa area, guesting on a few songs backed by the senior singers sporting black bows. The grandmothers in the crowd love it.

“While the choir is looking for new talent, it’s primarily adult males we have in mind,’’ chuckled coordinator Harry Baker who handles bookings. “There’s always room for a few more.’’

The fluctuating members’ list stands at about 12 including electronic drummer, guitar player and Kacper on keyboard. In addition to seniors’ facilities, the choir specializes in church and memorial services; not that it wouldn’t accept other “gigs”, but seniors events make up most of the one-hour bookings.

“We try to play what our audience wants to hear,” Harry explained. “But we like to surprise them too, with tunes by The Beatles or Elvis. “It’s a pleasure to see the recognition and joy our tunes bring to audience members.”

With one-hour practices every Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the music academy, RMC has begun going over its Remembrance Day repertoire, a good time for new recruits to come on board: “We carry as many as 22 members because the extra voices fill out our sound. Also, with many shows to perform one or more members can’t make it, so the extras are helpful.”

RMC members are volunteers who actually pay for the privilege: “It costs each member $50 three times a year to cover costs, including the choir director’s fees. Music is how Kacper makes his living and, with a young family, he can’t be expected to participate on a volunteer basis.”

You don’t have to be a great singer: “It’s a choir and it depends on everybody’s contribution. Those who might think they can’t sing will soon find out they can at some level.”