For many a Beyonce fan, Montina Cooper is familiar name, face, and voice.
Over the last decade, the seasoned singer-songwriter has been a integral member of The Mamas – Queen Bey’s sassy backing group.
Together, they’ve toured the globe countless times over and helped shape the sound and brand that defines Beyonce as a live performer.
While still enjoying and excelling in that role, Cooper is now stepping into the solo spotlight.
With new album ‘Closer’ creating all the right waves, That Grape Juice caught up with the seasoned songbird to chat about the project and much more. What
Join us below, where a tale of talent and triumph awaits…
Most people know you as a member of Beyonce’s group, The Mamas. But you have a really interesting story yourself and have also worn many titles over your career. Tell us a little about your musical journey up till this point…
My musical journey actually started with Mary J Blige. I went to one of her concerts and met her backstage and ultimately sang for her and she then asked my manager at the time to bring me to New York where I signed a record deal with her. My credits started with working on her ‘No More Drama’ album doing background vocals for the track ‘2U.’ Then I started working with Kelly Rowland doing vocal production on her ‘Ms. Kelly’ album. I had two placements of my own music on ‘Noah’s Ark’ the television show on the LOGO Network and I also vocal produced and arranged the last performance with Destiny’s Child when they sang the National Anthem at the All Star Basketball Game.
The music business is renowned for its glitz, but oftentimes there are dark stories behind some of the brightest shining names. I hear that you overcame a bout with depression and a suicide attempt. Tell us a little about that.
Watching my Father leave our family was a painful ordeal and with all the things that life hurls at you sometimes you decide that giving up is the only option and that’s what happened. In that moment I stopped trying to fight for life because I had had enough. I then decided that ending it all was the easiest option and honestly God used my friend to save my life as I had already taken the pills, she was my saving grace.
What’s your message to those experiencing similar struggles?
I would advice them to find someone they confide in and talk to. I believe that one of the leading factors of depression is the emotional ordeals we face as people and we tend to lock it all inside and struggle to get it out. If you are unable to afford a therapist speak to someone from your local church or a family member you can trust, and then start working on yourself mentally. It’s a daily struggle but a gradual process in the right direction.
We are loving your single ‘You Saved Me’; what can listeners take from the album it’s lifted from – ‘Closer’?
The album is already released and available on all major music platforms. It’s a project that anyone can relate to because it’s a fresh R&B sound. I think there’s a void in this genre and it’s real singing with a beautiful story. To me it’s a timeless project.
Who are some of your musical influences?
You wouldn’t believe I’m a huge Chicago fan. I absolutely love Anita Baker, I live for her voice! Stevie Wonder, Luther, Barbara, Journey and I adore the Bee Gees, their harmonies were just sickening! I am very eclectic and I love all sorts of genres and artists from Patsy Cline to Fela Kuti.
Anyone who’s followed Beyonce knows two things – she surrounds herself with premium talent and works incredibly hard. You’re currently on tour with her at the moment, how intense is your preparation? I see the Mamas have their own choreography et al.
We have both musical and production rehearsals and they’re intense. Believe it or not we probably work 14-16 hours a day and we repeatedly run the show over and over again. A lot of our choreography comes from previous tours and when there are new songs we also look at what the dancers are doing and we mimic their moves. It’s intense but I enjoy working for her because she works harder than we do. She’s at rehearsal before we get there and after we leave she’s still grinding it out.
The Mamas have been an integral element of Beyonce’s band for almost a decade. What are some of your most memorable moments?
Performing at Glastonbury is one of my most memorable moments. Looking out into that sea of people coming to hear Queen B perform and then when we step out front and perform our segment, they showed us the same amount of love they showed her. Another memory is travelling to Egypt and swimming in the red sea and in that moment I realised how little I was compared to life. All my problems that I deemed to be so big did not matter. My mindset was renewed and I was washed clean. I think this is one reason why I don’t suffer from depression anymore because to be in that huge body of water I realise that life is so much bigger than just you. It made me become a selfless person.
Randomness; what is you most embarrassing moment?
I was performing with Mary J Blige in Houston Texas at a huge concert and apparently my shirt had risen up and everyone could see my spanks! Now, I had family and friends at this concert and my sister was yelling “pull it down, pull your shirt down!” but I didn’t notice, it wasn’t until I felt some breeze hit my midriff area that I realised everything was on show on big screen!
What advice for those wanting to break into the music business?
Work your ass off and be at the right place at the right time and always have faith that this is where you’re supposed to be.
Best and worst advice you’ve received on your music journey?
I’ve had someone very important in the industry say to me “it’s not for you, you’re not an artist. Why don’t you try being a vocal producer or a song writer?” People have tried to sway me away from pursuing my dream and suggested that I stay behind the scenes but I ignore it because they’re not my Jesus. The best advice I received is never give up, keep going.
What is the ultimate goal for Montina Cooper?
The ultimate goal for Montina Cooper is for the world to see who I am as a performer and as an artist. For the world to hear my music and be the best version of myself I can be.