“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
Antoinette Montague has a love of humanity and music to bring joy to people. She has played most of the major jazz clubs in New York, and recently returned from Israel with the 46-piece Ashdod Orchestra, and is on her way to to perform with the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in Russia.
Antoinette feels just as appreciated here at home by people who enjoy the spirit she loves to bring inside of her music. Jimmy Heath says, “Antoinette has the instrument, delivery and enunciation, when performing, that touches my soul.”
To understand the electrifying impact Antoinette has on audiences, just read what Larry Luttenger, of the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation has to say: “Packed houses, standing ovation, multiple encores — after a night like that it’s the law — your guest has to return for more. We had no alternative but to invite our cabaret artist — the pride of Newark NJ, the incomparable, bluesy, swinging Antoinette Montague — back once again to present an all-new show for us."
Born and raised in Newark, Antoinette Montague was drawn to the music by her mother who was always singing and sounded like Ella Fitzgerald. Montague’s interest was further jump started by her dad. “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.”
Years later Montague met up with the renowned Etta Jones, who became her mentor. “She encouraged me. It’s going to be wonderful,” she said. Montague released her first CD, “Pretty Blues,” in 2006 featuring pianist Mulgrew Miller, saxophonist Bill Easley, drummer Kenny Washington, and bassist Peter Washington — the same group of influential jazz players featured on the new release “Behind The Smile.” Montague has appeared on the cover of Jazz Improv NY Magazine and on two book covers of Who’s Who in Jazz, Cabaret and Music.
She has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Kitano Jazz (returning April 13, 2012), Jazzmobile’s Summer Breeze Concert Series and as curator and Mistress of Ceremonies for the tribute to Dr. Billy Taylor, and an upcoming event, "A Lions Roar: A Tribute to Detroit’s own Barry Harris” on April 22 for PJS Jazz in Mt Vernon, NY. She’s also appeared at renowned performance venues like The Zebra Room in Harlem’s famous Lenox Lounge, where she will return May 18, & 19, 2012, the Blue Note, Jazz Standard and more. l
Antoinette’s album, “Behind The Smile” features a diverse repertoire of standards and originals including “What’s Going On,” “The Song Is You,” “Get Ready,” “Somewhere In The Night” as well the vocalist / composer’s original title song “Behind The Smile.” Today, Antoinette is happy to have the great Tommy James as her accompanist.
Antoinette has been a part of several Boards (Stamford CT Boys and Girls Club, Board of Better Business Bureau CT, VP International Women In Jazz), and acted as advisor to varied careers both inside and outside of the arts.
Have fun helping to get this fun artist booked in bigger venues. Be a part of the extended family determined to keep Jazz, Blues and swinging music ALIVE! Please send your friends to help fill venues, and bring a brighter moment to someone's day listening to music provided by Antoinette Montague. Antoinette is grateful to the efforts of Mother AME ZION, Lil Philips, this great Pastor of this great congregation.
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.
© 2013 Antoinette Montague