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
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 Babysitting 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.