Gig Preview: Gospel and Blues with Dennis Montgomery in Mumbai
The American pianist will collaborate with Rhys Sebastian, Dominique Cerejo and Aleif Hamdan at The Quarter this weekend
Growing up in a musical family always has its perks, and for Dennis Montgomery it was the fact that he was making $25 every Sunday when he started performing at his church in Shreveport, Louisiana at the age of nine. The American pianist/organist tells us that he would contribute that fee to his parents and says, “I believed that music was my destiny.” The virtuoso is now in Mumbai to perform a thrilling blues and gospel show at city-based venue The Quarter on September 22nd.
After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Montgomery went on to join as a faculty member there and has since been part of the organization for over three decades. It’s also where he founded the iconic Berklee gospel choir called Overjoyed. Ask Montgomery what gospel music is to him and he answers, “Gospel music is important, for the fact that it’s the basis for American music itself. Starting with the Negro Spirituals, the blues and the music of the south. Gospel music is utilized on rhythm and blues, hip-hop, funk, jazz and today’s pop.” He adds, “The origins stem from the Negro Spirituals sung by black slaves working in the fields for whites.”
The show is part of the Berklee India Exchange program and Montgomery states that he is excited to share his culture and heritage while also learning about India’s diverse culture from music to dance. “This cultural exchange will be a long term quest for me to build communities through our music,” he says.
The pianist will be accompanied by Mumbai musicians; saxophonist Rhys Sebastian and vocalist Dominique Cerejo as well as Indonesian guitarist Aleif Hamdan. The set list at the show will include gospel classics including “Amazing Grace” as well as covers of blues songs by the likes of B.B.King. On working with Montgomery, Cerejo says, “He is just the nicest, he knew I was feeling a little bit stressed about it and he made me feel so comfortable so quickly. He just said to me ‘you do your thing; I’m just going to back you.’”
Cerejo also tells us that this will be the first time that Mumbai is going to hear African gospel music in the most traditional sense. She says, “I think the people are going to be delighted, it’s going to be a treat for people who enjoy this music.”
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