“Her lusty and soulful voice reaches right into the heart of the listener.”
—Accent on Tampa Bay, Music Tracks
Antoinette Montague “has a powerful voice and she’s not afraid to use it, belting out the more up-tempo songs and bringing soulful underlying emotion to the quieter songs.”
“Montague’s interpretative powers reign supreme.”
—John Gilbert, eJazzNews
“The lady has a gutsy voice that can belt out a blues or whisper a love song.”
—William Ruhlmann, The Online Guide To All Music
Raised in Newark NJ, Antoinette Montague came from a home where there always was music. Nurtured by a mother who sang like Yonkers own Ella Fitzgerald. Ms. Montague was exposed from an early age to the music of Nat King Cole, The Ink Spots, Motown, Paul Robeson, Louise Armstrong, Duke Ellington, as well as many Jazz Greats. She has been mentored by some of the greats--Carrie Smith and Etta Jones, teaching her the ins and outs of life as a jazz and Blues entertainer. It was a given she would develop and use her God-given talent, and uses it she does.
Evoking the two great Etta's–Etta Jones and Etta James–as well as blues star Carrie Smith and Jazz whisperer Shirley Horn, Ms. Montague shows tremendous range to her artistry. Her commitment to her audience is refreshing; her show is crafted to take listeners on a journey that embraces the power of Jazz history, yet maintains the excitement of the present.
With great musicians she hand selects, Antoinette Montague brings the fire, passion and energy needed to complement our dynamic songstress to make The Antoinette Montague Experience an incredible evening of excellence in the arts. When she includes a tap dancer, it is an additional accompaniment the to the band, incorporates Jazz traditions with the historical marriage of the music and dance, successfully integrating artful style to enhance the Jazz experience.
With her repertoire of swing, blues, bebop, storytelling, explosive excitement and entertainment-Antoinette Montague brings down the house each and every time she performs.
Antoinette Montague has performed internationally at hundreds of venues as varied as Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC famed The Charlie Parker Festival, Blue Note, Dizzys, and The Belgarad Philarmonic Orchestra in Russia, US State Department tours, Ashdod Orchestra in Israel. Utemeyer Arts Center, Jeonju International Singers Fest representing the USA, in South Korea, NJPAC Dorthaans Place, the Eleuthera All That Jazz Festival in the Bahamas and has been a consultant to launched and headlined several great Jazz and music festivals.
Besides the many accolades for her vocal accomplishments, Ms. Montague has received numerous examples awards for outstanding community service organizations as varied as Delta Sigma Theda's "Standing On Her Shoulders" award, Woman of the Year Award, Boardroom Publications, Women's Academy of Excellence Philanthropy Award, Board work includes The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts, Boys and Girls Club, Connecticut Better Business Bureau, and consultant/mentor to many talented and business professionals.
Antoinette is the CEO of the Jazz Woman to the Rescue Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that encourages the public to give old instruments no longer in use to youths without benefit of the arts in their schools.
The incomparable Antoinette Has released several CDs, her latest being World Peace in the Key of Jazz and a children's CD, Jazz Woman to the Rescue.
The Antoinette Montague Experience gives us the rare gift of uninhibited generosity of spirit and true optimism that Jazz music heals and harmonizes, bringing disparate souls together.
I was raised in Newark, New Jersey, the youngest of 7 children. My introduction to music came from my mom, who was always singing and sounded a lot like Ella Fitzgerald. With six older siblings, there was always music in the house. I listened to Nat King Cole, the Ink Spots, Motown and Paul Robeson. If you came through the Newark school system, you learned about Paul Robeson. He graduated from Rutgers University and Rutgers has a campus in Newark so I felt a connection to him. I remember the first time I heard his voice. It was almost like he was singing directly to me. On Saturdays my dad would drop me off at the Newark Public Library on his way to work. There I would listen to Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The pictures of Duke Ellington from the 20's and 30's with his top hat on blew my mind. He was gorgeous!
At my high school graduation, my music teacher had me sing, “Send in the Clowns”. But my first time singing on stage was for a high school salute to Walt Disney, “When You Wish Upon A Star”. My knees knocked so hard, the kids could see my pant legs trembling. It took a lot of heart to sing. I went to Seton Hall University, I heard a Gospel choir and joined it. I found that it was possible to take the spirituality of gospel and infuse it into jazz and blues. I began to go to the Peppermint Lounge in East Orange, a local jazz and blues club. My friends would get the musicians to let me sit in. That was my introduction. I began to listen, learn, practice and figure it all out.
My mother was diagnosed with breast and brain cancer during my days Seton Hall. Concentrating was difficult at best. I decided to let my full academic Martin Luther King Scholarship go, and get day job. I got involved with a little R & B band. I heard a woman named Carrie Smith, who was performing on Broadway, and fell in love with her sound. I volunteered to work with her and made it my own apprenticeship, a way to learn all aspects of the business. If she were appearing at the Blue Note, I would handle everything from soup to nuts, getting to see what it is to be a foot soldier working for an artist. When she went to Europe, where she was incredibly popular, I used my vacation time to travel with her. Carrie Smith was ready to retire when I met her, but we kept her working for another 10 years mostly based on relationships she had established with Dick Hyman and other people. She was my first mentor.
I was on a jazz cruise with Carrie Smith in the mid 90’s when I met the great Etta Jones. Etta had a lot of patience for up and coming talent and invited me to sing at jam sessions. There was an instant connect between us. She took me under her wing and often came to hear me perform and provide pointers. Etta mentored me, encouraged me, mothered me. She gave me confidence and introduced me to Myrna Lake and Della Griffin (who sounds like Billy Holiday). Both Myrna and Della mentored me when Etta was out of town. I also filled in for them when they were traveling. Etta pushed me to schedule more performances and develop a career. She died in 2001 and I miss her every day. I wear her ring that I got from her granddaughter along with the ring from her two dear friends. I think about Etta, her life lessons, her kindness and her toughness if you got on her bad side. She encouraged me when others were being uncool. She would say, “I hear it Annie. It is coming along, and it’s going to be wonderful. Not everybody wants you to sing like they did me. Keep doing it and don’t quit, or I will come back and haunt you.” Her memory haunts me in a most profoundly loving way. I appreciate and cherish every life lesson I learned from each and every one of my Jazz family members, especially Etta Jones.
© 2017 Antoinette Montague