It is possible you have heard his voice, maybe on the radio, or possibly you have heard him on television shows such as Rescue Me, One Tree Hill, Bones, Law and Order Criminal Intent – and such. Maybe you have heard his voice and didn’t know who he was. His sound is distinct and sincere and if you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to Ray LaMontagne, you should.
Ray LaMontagne was born in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1973. Raised by his mother, a musician who liked to stay on the move, LaMontagne found his interest more in reading and writing than in music in his early years. In his biography, he states that he frequently ditched high school in Morgan, Utah to write stories. Despite barely attending school, LaMontagne did graduate and eventually moved to Lewiston, Maine where he started work in a shoe factory.
Changing careers happened almost instantaneously, as LaMontagne puts it, he was listening to a Stephen Stills song during an early morning work shift – which inspired him to quit and become a singer songwriter. By 1999 he was touring while maintaining a side job as a carpenter. In the summer of 1999 he created a 10-song demo that he submitted to various local music venues. When the doors opened for him by initiation to perform at a local theater, opening for John Gorka and Jonathan Edwards, LaMontagne was quickly discovered. He was signed to Chrysalis Music Publishing and recorded his first album. The album was sold to RCA in the US and Echo Records in the UK.
The first album LaMontagne is most noted for is “Trouble”. The album was released in 2004 with featured performances by Nickel Creek violinist Sara Watkins and Stephen Still’s daughter Jennifer Stills. Although the album didn’t reach as much pop success in the US, with peaking only at #189 on the Billboard 200, it sold over 250,000 copies and over 400,000 copies worldwide.
When American Idol contestant and then winner Taylor Hicks performed “Trouble”, the song was brought to the forefront of many new listeners. The song was again performed by another American Idol contestant during Season 6. By 2005 people were hearing the voice of LaMontagne for the TV series Rescue Me. Songs “All the Wild Horses”, “Trouble” and “Burn” were used in the background. In 2006, “Touble” became a top 40 hit in the UK and peaked at #5.
In 2006 LaMontagne released his second album “Till The Sun Turns Black”. The album featured more instrumentation than his first and included the use of a horn and string section on several of the songs. The album peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200 album chart and sold 28,000 copies in its first week. LaMontagne was asked to perform on The Tonight Show and was album to promote his album. Soon after, the song “Till The Sun Turns Black” was featured on the television show ER and “Lesson Learned” was used on One Tree Hill.
LaMontagne’s efforts have not gone completely unnoticed. He has won three Boston Music Awards for Album of the Year (“Trouble”), Song of the Year (“Trouble”), and best male singer/songwriter. He was also nominated for “Act of the Year” and “Male Vocalist of the Year”. XM Nation Awards named him “Best New Acoustic Rock Artist”. “Trouble” was nominated for the 2005 Shortlist Music Prize and Esquire Magazine awarded LaMontagne a “Best Voice Esky” in the 2006 Esky Music Awards.
In 2008 LaMontagne released his third album “Gossip in the Grain” and reached #3 on the Billboard Charts. The song “You Are the Best Thing” was featured in the movie I Love You, Man. He also sang the song “Sarah” on an episode of House.M.D.
LaMontagne is certainly a voice we will be hearing over and over, and now you can put a name to it.
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.ray lamontagne, rescue me, trouble