Back in the days while listening to Van Halen, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, Jeff Silverman had aspirations of stepping into the limelight with a killer album that would vault him up the charts toward stardom.
“Ever since I was little, I played guitar and always wanted to be a rock star,” Silverman said. “And now I get to be a fake one.”
Silverman, 52, doesn’t say those words with any hint of regret, mind you, but with a laugh because he’s enjoying success with a singing telegram business that he runs out of his home office in Philomath.
But don’t let the name of the company fool you — performers will sing selections from just about any genre, including pop, soul and country. Silverman said he even does a pretty good Sinatra.
People who hire him can also make a request for just about any song.
“I always tell people that you should receive one once in your life and also give one once in your life,” Silverman said about singing telegrams. “Some people absolutely hate it and they hate the attention but most people just love it and it’s something unique. It’s an experience and a memory.”
LOCAL DISCOUNT Rockstar Singing Telegrams owner Jeff Silverman is offering a $99 discount off the regular price for any in-person events in Philomath. To take advantage of the discount, call Silverman directly at his local number, 541-908-1074. For more information, go online to RockstarSingingTelegrams.com.
Singing telegrams fit right in with Valentine’s Day and in fact, it’s typically the busiest day for the company. But this year, the holiday falls on a Sunday. Silverman said a lot of guys want to send singing telegrams to places of employment for a wife or girlfriend — which can’t usually happen on a weekend.
So what does a singing telegram look like these days?
“We’ll show up at the front door, deliver the rose and a balloon, a special message and deliver a few love songs for Valentine’s Day,” Silverman said.
With COVID-19 restrictions, delivering the performance has changed a bit.
“Everything’s outside these days,” Silverman said. “Rain or shine, I’m going to be outside, or masked up if we had to come in for a minute, but right now, we’re trying to do everything outside.”
Silverman could sit down with you and share some funny stories about reactions from singing telegram recipients, including one woman who ran away from him while she was at work.
“Now granted, it was the second time her parents hired me to sing for her and embarrass her but as soon as she saw me, she thought ‘not again’ and she just took off running,” he laughed. “She just wasn’t having it again.”
The singing telegrams are not limited to only romantic moments.
“We get some really beautiful telegrams where someone’s on hospice and we get to sing their favorite song to them and deliver a very special message about how much they mean to somebody,” he said. “We get a wide variety of requests.”
Moms have hired Silverman to head over to Oregon State University to deliver an embarrassing singing telegram to college students in fraternities. He’s even done some singing in the local high school.
“When my kids were in Philomath High School, I used to do a few in the high school for their girlfriends and stuff and that was always fun to show up,” Silverman said.
Beyond the in-person singing telegrams, Silverman also offers videograms — a personalized video message with a customized song that can be sent to anyone with an internet connection.
“Tonight, I’ve got to record four of those for the next couple of days so I’m heading into the studio tonight,” Silverman said on Friday afternoon. “I have a home studio and people submit photos of their loved one. I have a green screen in my home, so I put together a really fun video of me serenading them with some photos that come up on the screen. It’s pretty cool, especially for people who are very COVID conscious.”
The idea to launch Rockstar Singing Telegrams dates back to 2008 when he hired a local barbershop quartet to sing to his wife. Sure, the group did a nice job but he wondered if there was a market for “something cooler than this.”
So, the following year, he established the business as a side gig to his main enterprise, Silverman Studios, a video production company. He has since taken the venture nationwide in the country’s 10 largest markets.
“We’re doing things in Kansas on Valentine’s Day where it’s supposed to be 4 degrees outside,” he said. “We do telegrams in Mississippi; we did one this morning in Hawaii.”
Silverman is building a database of musicians that he can go to when a singing telegram order comes in from a particular part of the country.
“As a request comes in, I will go out and do some searches for musicians in different cities and once they do their first gig, then they’re on my roster,” he said. “I probably have 50 musicians across the U.S.”
The singing telegram gigs have provided needed income for some of those musicians.
“A lot of these guys are really hurting this year with COVID,” Silverman said. “As musicians, they make their living at bars and restaurants and weddings. This business for a lot of my musicians has been a good thing so I feel really thankful for being able to help them.”
Silverman said things were dead over the first few weeks of the pandemic but Rockstar Singing Telegrams has been staying busy ever since.
“People still just don’t know what to do for birthdays and special events,” he said. “Like, they can’t go out to dinner and celebrate so why not hire a guy to come serenade us in the backyard?”
Silverman believes it can be a special gift that will not be forgotten.
“I think that’s what I love about it — you’re giving someone a unique memory that’ll last their whole life,” he said. “They’ll always remember the birthday when they got the singing telegram or the Valentine’s Day when they got the singing telegram.”
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