Winner! Los Angeles Music Awards 2003
"Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year"
Anna Montgomery opens for Grammy Winning Artist Shelby Lynne
Anna Montgomery has created an opportunity for herself that few of her peers have been able to duplicate. Beyond establishing a hard earned local reputation as one of music's most compelling new personalities, she's managed to attract the attention of some of the artists whose music has most inspired her. Following a strong gut instinct, Anna reached out to Capitol recording artist Shelby Lynne and her management, sending along her debut CD and press kit. Their response is the stuff of which dreams are made.
In the Spring of 2003, both Shelby and her manager came to see Anna perform. Impressed with her work, they then joined her in the studio to listen to new material and ultimately offered her a combination opening act/background singer position touring with Lynne and her band. In the few short months that she's been part of Shelby Lynne's road band, Anna has already enjoyed performing before large crowds across the country, being part of a forthcoming Lynne DVD package and receiving the prestigious LA Music Award as AC Artist Of The Year on her home turf at Hollywood's House Of Blues.
"I am incredibly fortunate to have Shelby as a friend," says Anna, in her home studio. "She has been so supportive and generous. On most of the tour dates, she'd join me on stage at the end of my set for "Lyin' In The Face Of Love", which would then dovetail into her own show. That was her way of showing her fans that she was proud to be introducing my music to them."
If Anna's new role in Lynne's band seems like an 'overnight' stroke of good fortune, it's important to remember she got her break the hard way-she earned it. It was only three years ago that her presentation of the substance and style that comprise her autobiographical songs propelled her to instant notoriety in clubs and coffee houses around Los Angeles.
Whether she's making candid observations about romance or painting musical portraits of the life she sees and feels on the streets of the city of angels, Anna demonstrates an almost uncanny ability to render her subjects instantly recognizable. Her remarkably evocative voice, a gift she inherited from her opera singer/teacher mother and her journeyman musician father (a keyboard and harmonica player whose credits include work with Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Kim Carnes and El Rocho), has become a calling card that has riveted audiences, impressed critics and caused club owners to invite Anna and her band back to play their establishments time and again.
An integral part of Anna's style can be traced to her study of vocal jazz at Western Michigan University and her work in Chicago with Pete Cosey, a veteran guitarist who spent a significant portion of his career working with Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin. Her ultimate destination could easily have been the jazz charts, but her love of rhythm & blues and soul music ultimately compelled her to begin writing and performing her own material. Not surprisingly, the songs on her eponymous debut album are arresting blends of these two genres that so clearly informed her early growth as an artist.
The turning point for Anna came in 1998 when she moved to Los Angeles and reunited with a long lost "family" of musicians that her parents had been part of before she was born. The patriarch of this clan is Buzz Clifford, a multi-platinum selling artist and songwriter (he topped the charts in the early 60s with Babysittin Boogie and has written Freddie King's Ain't That I Don't Love You, Keith Barbour's Echo Park and, most recently, Beck's Milk And Honey). Anna and Buzz connected immediately, established a strong rapport based on their similar musical tastes and began working together on a number of projects until they realized their collective strength and decided to write, record and perform together as a team.
The Montgomery/Clifford chemistry is an integral part of the magic that characterizes Anna's debut. The interplay between his guitar and her keyboard is one of the attributes that sets her vocals up for the punchy, soaring intensity that has become her signature. Anna points out quickly that her study with acclaimed recording artist and songwriter Harriet Schock has helped her add another important piece to the puzzle. Her lifelong appreciation for the power of American jazz, soul and blues is the glue that holds her powerful musical mixture together.
When people hear Anna sing, they're compelled to act. Just ask Shelby Lynne. Not surprisingly, she's been recruited to add vocals to the new album by long time Beach Boy, David Marks, sing on the national theatrical trailer for the Jennifer Lopez film, Enough, and perform the theme song for the National Association of Women Legislators. As much fun as those outside projects are, Anna is quick to reveal that she thinks the best is yet to come for her, her music and her talented band. The attention she's been receiving recently as a member of Lynne's entourage is a good indication she's chose the right career. "Some people say," she observes, "that music is the way they express themselves. For me music is the way I discover myself and I'm in way too deep to back out now."
Links: Check out Felix Brenner's "Death of Salvador Dali" at CDBaby.com/felixbrenner