Barbara Montgomery has been in the entertainment field for over thirty years as a music industry executive, publisher, producer, songwriter, arranger, recording artist, as well as working in production for film and television. She began performing as a jazz vocalist in 1970 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. The days on the Douglas Show were priceless, for she worked side by side with the greats in jazz–Ella Fitzgerlad, Tony Bennett, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, to name just a few. 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 and film businesses.
She has been Music Director for Richard Simmons since 1986. This has given her the opportunity to produce the music for over 20 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.
After a twenty-year break, she returned to her 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 five 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/composer/ arranger 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.
Ms. Montgomery also leads 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.
While raising her two children, she performed primarily in the PA/DE/NJ/NY area (Iridium, Borgia Cafe, Zanzibar Blue, Ortlieb’s, Chris’ Cafe, jazz festivals, Philadelphia Museum of Art Jazz Series among others); has had three 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; and has performed often in France.
She has been volunteering with The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, an international institute that works with the families of brain injured children, since 1980, in their programs for hurt kids and well children. She home schooled her two children (now 27 and 19) from birth via the neurological program guidelines of the Institutes, teaching languages, art, music, violin, sciences, history, literature, and gymnastics among other areas in the academic and physical programs; became certified at the teaching level; has volunteered for many years in their clinical work, most recently proving translation services for the French speaking families; participated in over 20 twenty world meetings on brain research. She has received the Brazilian Gold Medal of Honor for her efforts in this field.
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 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 also works with Mothers in Charge and Mothers Opposed to Murder, both groups of Philadelphia mothers who have lost children to homicide, as well as Mantua Against Drugs, Men United for a Better Philadelphia, Pennsylvanians Against Trafficking Handguns, and other grass roots organizations in Pennsylvania. From October 2004 through 2005 she 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 actual performances of their songs. She performed at the national Million Mom March 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 each year produces and performs the Mother’s Day Remembrance Service for the Pennsylvania Million Mom March.