Biography

Winner, 2011 FARM (Folk Alliance Region Midwest) Official Showcase
Winner, 2011 Walnut Valley Festival New Song Songwriting Competition

“Carol Montag is a genuine discovery! The best to out of Iowa since Bonnie Koloc!”
- Tom Paxton

Early Beginnings

Carol was born in Ames, Iowa on December 5th. Because it was the month of peace, joy, love, and Christmas Carols, her parents decided the name Carol would be fitting. Carol’s father, Jean, was a master well driller for the Layne Western Company. (She’s proud to be a well digger’s daughter.) He was a good whistler and a great story teller who loved to crank up the polka music on Sunday mornings, and who occasionally played the harmonica after work while sitting in his Lazy-Boy recliner. Her mother, Marian, was a stay-at-home mother of five. Carol has two older sisters, a younger brother and a younger sister and is the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed one in the bunch. Marian, who beautifully sang hymns and songs like “All the Little Children Love Marian” while she worked around the house, saw to it that all the kids took piano lessons.

Carol first began singing and performing music at an early age in church, where she grew to love traditional hymns and liturgical songs. Always imagining she was on a grand stage, she sang and danced most of the way through her early childhood years. In addition to her piano lessons with May Simpson, Carol studied the flute during middle school years. While in high school, she learned to play her sister’s guitar by ear while listening to such folk music legends as Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and Joan Baez. She saved her money and in her senior year she purchased her first guitar, a Yamaha 12-string, at Eschbach’s House of Music.

Her first year and a half of college was spent at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, where Carol played in a few acoustic bands and competed on the women’s gymnastics team. She was majoring in physical education at the time, but after a back injury and subsequent surgery, she moved back to Ames to study graphic design at Iowa State University. After graduation from Iowa State, she worked as a graphic designer at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a few years. The 12-string Yamaha was a constant companion and always in tow.

Carol’s first paid gigs were at a local Mexican restaurant in Cedar Rapids. Soon she began performing at colleges, coffeehouses, house concerts, churches, music festivals, and live radio shows. She has recorded four solo albums: Song for Carrie, White, Marigolds, and Second Sermon and two Christmas albums with the trio known as Tribute (Carol, Kathy Donnelly, and Nina Swanson). In the early 1990s, Carol was commissioned by Ballet Iowa to write songs for a ballet about a farm family in crisis. The work was titled “Swallows Return in the Spring.” Carol toured the midwest performing live with the ballet company. While performing at a private party in Washington, DC, Carol was invited to sing at the 2010 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony by the World Food Prize president and former ambassador to Cambodia, Kenneth Quinn. Past performers at the ceremony include such notables as John Denver, Ray Charles, and Simon Estes.

Selected Performances

Carol has opened for or shared the stage with:

  • Michael Johnson
  • Greg Brown
  • Cliff Eberhardt
  • John Gorka
  • Arlo Guthrie
  • Larry Groce
  • Pricilla Herdman
  • Tom Paxton
  • Jim Post
  • Kenny Rankin
  • John Stewart
  • Three Dog Night
  • David Wilcox

Events, Festivals, Colleges, Coffeehouses

  • 2010 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony
  • Iowa Public Television
  • KCRG and KGAN Television
  • The Flea Market, WBEZ-fm
  • Live From Studio I, KUNI-fm
  • Winnipeg Folk Festival
  • Old Town School of Folk Music
  • Great Traditional Music Festival
  • Bix Beiderbeck Festival
  • Rockford Folk Festival
  • Shawano Folk Festival
  • 19th Street Coffeehouse, Madison, WI
  • Bluewhale Coffeehouse, Green Bay, WI
  • Front Porch Music, Valparaiso, IN
  • No Exit Cafe, Chicago, IL
  • The Maintenance Shop, Ames, IA

Acclaim

Tom Paxton – Early in her performance career, Montag was described by folk music legend, Tom Paxton, as “a genuine discovery and the best to come out of Iowa since Bonnie Koloc.” Upon receiving the album Marigolds he described the recording as “…excellent in songwriting style, performance, and production.”

Ballet Iowa – Kennet Oberly, former artistic director of Ballet Iowa, recognized Carol’s songwriting talent and commissioned her to compose music for his ballet titled Swallows Return in the Spring. The commissioned work, which depicted the human tragedy of the farm crisis, was well received by critics. Montag performed live with the company on Iowa Public Television and while on a Midwestern tour.

“Upon hearing her music I was stunned and couldn’t wait to write about her. Once I even rented a bus and took a bunch of Register reporters and editors on a trip across Iowa to hear Carol sing at Stone City. Carol has a true gift and is a true Iowa treasure. Her music is powerful, beautiful, harmonic, soulful, and real.”
- Julie Gammack – The Des Moines Register

“Carol Montag is an amazingly talented singer who knocked everyone’s socks off in her debut performance at The Grape Life.”
- Jim Renkus – Owner, The Grape Life

“Carol has the voice of an angel. Timeless, transporting, lovely, and evocative. Lyrically wise and uplfting.”
- Rob Nassif – Theatrical composer

“Carol writes and sings from the heart about places in all our hearts with a golden voice and overtones of servious musical accomplishments. She charmed us, humbled us, and we all made a friend.”
- The Earfood Entertainer

“A singer of new songs written by her for her. Carol is not folk or blues or modern, she cannot be categorized, she must be heard.”
- Burlington Area Arts Council

“Carol has a touch of homespun about her, but she takes the stage like a pro.”
- Chuck Mitchell

 

One Comment

  1. Posted March 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Is you music for sale on CD?