Franklin Denham, Minister of Music at Highland Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, has been conducting Singing Christmas Tree performances since 1985. The history of singing trees goes back to the outdoor presentations in 1933 at Belhaven College, Jackson, MS, which is considered the first and oldest outdoor Singing Christmas Tree event in America.
At the time, indoor performances were rare, as it required a rather large church to accommodate this type of performance. All of the tree performances at Highland Baptist Church have been continually held indoors and are performed 6 times each year. Over the past 29 years, there have been approximately 2,800 attendees per season. Depending upon the year, there will be from 65 to over 100 singers on the tree. It stands 35 feet high, with nine rows of singers and weighs 21,000 pounds fully loaded.
“Over the years we had used conventional condenser microphones for sound reinforcement on the tree,” explains Denham. “About four years ago we converted to Earthworks and placed 16 SR30 High Definition Microphones on the tree. The Earthworks microphones make 60 singers sound more like a hundred.
“We are able to get more gain-before-feedback. This allows us to bring the choir sound up to a level that will balance well with our 21-piece orchestra and organ. An immediate bonus of the Earthworks microphones is a dramatic improvement in intelligibility. If a choir can be heard and understood, what can be better than that?”
The choir begins each program singing on risers directly behind the orchestra. For these selections, Denham utilizes 4 Earthworks FW730 Flexwands.
“The Flexwands provide us excellent coverage of the choir, more gain-before-feedback and more intelligibility,” says Denham. “The rear rejection of the Flexwands keeps the leakage of the orchestra into the choir microphones at a bare minimum. The Flexwands are almost invisible from the congregation when the house lights are up.
“When house lights are dimmed, the Flexwands become completely unnoticeable. One of my favorite features of the Flexwands is that the microphone connector is in the base and there are no visible wires above floor level. The Flexwands are light years ahead of our previous microphones.”
“I would also like to mention that we have an Earthworks PM40 PianoMic, which is just stellar. We use a few extra SR30s for solo instruments. The recent addition of an Earthworks podium microphone allows us to hear the spoken word with incredible detail and clarity either on, or off-axis. The use of Earthworks High Definition Microphones™ has made an incredible improvement in our church services and music performances.”