Barbara Montgomery has been making a life and a living in the entertainment field as a jazz vocalist, music industry executive, music producer and publisher, as well as working in production for film and television as a director/producer, film editor, camera operator, lighting director, property master and stage manager. She began performing as a jazz vocalist but took a detour in her music career by joining the NBC/Westinghouse television station that produced the Mike Douglas Show, working for that program and others. During this time she also freelanced, working on the seminal PBS series, The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, as well as touring as a lighting designer for international popular music groups. She was also the managing director of a major recording studio servicing the music, television, advertising and film businesses.
After a twenty-year break to raise her children, she returned to her other passion, performing and recording as a jazz musician. Her relationship with Chick Corea and Neville Potter led to her third CD Dakini Land and was a springboard for the original songs on her fourth CD Little Sunflower. This endeavour blessed her with the gift of friendship, performance, and collaboration with the great jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. She has produced six CDs of her own, arranging and writing original material for four of them in collaboration with Steve Giordano (“Ask Me Now”), Barry Sames (“Dakini Land” and “Little Sunflower”) and Aaron Graves (“Trinity”). Her 2005 release, “Trinity” was co-produced with pianist Aaron Graves, whose short list includes work with Stanley Turrentine, Cassandra Wilson, Dakota Staton, the legendary Jimmy Scott, and Oscar Brown, Jr. Both “Little Sunflower” and “Trinity” were honored with the Blue Chip Award for Best Jazz Vocals by Dr. Herb Wong of the International Association of Jazz Educators. Her holiday CD, “Noel-One From the Heart”, a duet with pianist Tom Lawton, originator of Monkadelphia, was heralded as “a must for your holiday collection.”
She was honored to co-produce the first solo CD for the great jazz bassist Lee Smith—“Sittin On A Secret”. This CD reached #13 on the National jazz charts, as well as making the Jazz Week Top 100 list for 2012.
Ms. Montgomery has been Music Director for Richard Simmons since 1986. This has given her the opportunity to produce the music for over 25 exercise videos ranging from oldies to disco to Broadway to Latin music, working in studios from New York to Los Angeles with hundreds of world class studio musicians.
She has produced music for dozens of television programs for celebrities including Jane Fonda, Cher, Michael Landon, Angela Lansbury, John Tesch, and more; produced cds for Christian artist Sandi Patty; provided music supervision for award winning independent films; produced several years of music for “Champions On Ice”, the Olympic ice skating tour; and is an advisor to many jazz musicians for their music productions.
She produced a multi-media, sixty piece jazz performance, The Rhythms of Christmas at Verizon Hall at the Philadelphia Kimmel Center honoring Ambassador Walter Annenberg. Included were narrations and rear screen projections of a DVD montage focusing on the spirit of giving (produced and written by Ms. Montgomery), a fifteen piece string ensemble, a thirty voice gospel choir, five jazz vocalists, four percussionists from Latin and African traditions, and a nine piece jazz ensemble. Ms. Montgomery also performed and narrated. The creative genius behind this project was the multi-talented musician Barry Sames.
She was asked by master jazz drummer Leon Jordan, Jr. to co-produce and perform in The Philadelphia Jazz All Star Benefit, honoring George “Butch” Ballard (original drummer for the Duke Ellington Orchestra) and benefiting the music programs for the Radnor School District/PA. Students of the various jazz ensembles rehearsed with the professional musicians in a workshop setting and performed onstage with Mr. Ballard and the entire jazz ensemble. Performers also included co-producer and drummer Leon Jordan, international jazz violinist John Blake, world renown trumpeter Terell Stafford, blues vocalist Frank Bey, vocalist Jeanne Brooks, pianist Aaron Graves, Venezuelan percussionist Marlon Simon, alto saxophonist Tony Williams, tenor saxophonist Chris Farr, bassist Lee Smith, and guitarist Steve Giordano.
Ms. Montgomery also created LADIES NIGHT OUT, her band of top female jazz musicians including Monette Sudler on guitar, Lynn Riley on saxophones/flute/clarinet, Lee-sa Robinson on drums, all international recording artists and performers in their own right.
She has been asked to write and contribute for jazz publications, including the premier issue of the AllAboutJazz newspaper, Jazziz Magazine, and Downbeat, and was featured in the July 2004 issue of Jazziz. She is writing a book on life as a private citizen in Saigon during the Vietnam War in the early 1960's.
While raising her two children, she performed primarily on the East Coast from New York City to Florida, then headed overseas, with multiple sold out tours in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, performing in Prague, Usti nad Labem, Olomousc, Bratislava, Trencin, Piestany, Banska Biasnica, Martin, Zvolen, Banska Biastryka, performing in Paris and London as well.
She is deeply involved in gun violence prevention, stemming from the years she lived in South Vietnam in the early 1960's. A more recent tragedy was the murder-suicide in January 2002 in Ardmore, Pa. of the family of five that included her daughter's dear friend, 14-year-old Alexandra Wake. Since that time she has hosted town meetings to address the dilemma of gun accessibility, has spoken at press conferences state wide, and has lobbied often in the Pennsylvania state capitol and in Congress in Washington, D.C. This led her to become the President of The Pennsylvania Million Mom March Chapters of the Brady Campaign. She continuously presents s gun violence prevention workshops to youth in middle schools, high schools, community organizations, and colleges; produced a state-wide assault weapons ban conference in the spring of 2004; and has testified in front of and advised the City Council of Philadelphia and the Pa. State Senate on firearms legislation.
She has directed weekly workshops with teens using music as the vehicle to help them work through the violence in their lives, coaching them to write poetry, song lyrics, and music, as well as coaching performances of their songs in venues all over Philadelphia. She performed at the National Million Mom March 10th anniversary on Mother’s Day of 2004 in Washington, D.C. on the west lawn of the Capitol honoring Alexandra and the many victims of gun violence, and in the spring of each year since has produced and performed a Remembrance Jazz Vespers for the families and victims of gun violence.
Ms. Montgomery has combined her passions for music and mentoring youth by creating “The Farmhouse”, a retreat center for artists and everyone in need of a space for creativity, healing, restoration, and rejuvenation. The seven-acre retreat is in Kennett Square, Pa., and hosts musicians and other artists, our young people, indviduals, families, community groups, and anyone in need...for residencies, writing and rehearsal retreats, workshops, meetings, planning sessions, a haven from the stresses of daily life.
Barbara Montgomery (1992)
Ask Me Now (1998)
Dakini Land (2001)
Little Sunflower (2003) **Blue Chip Award for Best Jazz Vocals, IAJE, 2003
Trinity (2005) **Blue Chip Award for Best Jazz Vocals, IAJE, 2005
Noel – One From The Heart (2005)