Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
A pleasing interpreter of standards whose influences include cool school favorites like Chris Connor, Julie London, and June Christy, Barbara Montgomery has been singing jazz since the 1960s, but didn't actually record an album until 1996. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Montgomery lived in Vietnam in the early to mid-'60s because of her father's work as an electrical engineer before moving to her adopted home of Philadelphia in the late '60s. In the early to mid-'70s, Montgomery's day gig was The Mike Douglas Show, for which she performed a variety of duties (including makeup artist, camera person, and stage manager). When the popular television program moved from Philly to L.A., Montgomery chose to remain in Philly. Montgomery went on tour with pop/folk singer Harry Chapin later in the 1970s (helping with lighting and doing some background vocals), but after having her first child in 1979, she took a break from music for several years in order to be a full-time mother. Since 1986, she has served as musical director for fitness expert Richard Simmons. Between the demands of working for Simmons and raising a child, Montgomery had little time for jazz singing in the 1980s. But she returned to club gigs in 1992 and acquired a small following playing the Philly jazz circuit, where she has been joined by such notables as guitarist Jimmy Bruno and pianists Sid Simmons, Barry Sames, and Dennis Fortune. Montgomery recruited former Chick Corea drummer Dave Weckl for her first album of 1996 (which she produced with guitarist Michael Sembello), and in 1998 the sophomore LP, Ask Me Now, was released. Dakini Land followed three years later, a tribute to the work of Chick Corea that won her much praise and put her on the scene as a vocalist to follow. That reputation was helped by Little Sunflower, the following year's record of standards.