published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Life lessons lead Chattanoogan Dennis Montford to the studio

ABOUT HIM

Name: Dennis Montford.

Hometown: Chattanooga.

Education: Brainerd High, UTC.

Family: Married to Christa, three children.

While attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the 1970s, Dennis Montford signed up for just about any musical opportunity that came his way.

He played percussion in the wind ensemble, snare drum in the marching band, piano in the jazz band and he sang in every church choir that would have him.

Later, as a member of The Malemen and other touring bands, he continued to expand his repertoire, playing keyboards and learning to fix electronic equipment.

"I was kind of forced into being an engineer by not having one available or not being able to afford one," he said.

Montford said all of those experiences helped prepare him for what would eventually become his vocation: producer.

In the mid-1990s, Montford was planning to go to Europe as an adventure, he said. That's when he got a call from fellow Chattanoogan Sam Sims, who told him Janet Jackson was going on tour and needed another keyboard player.

"I figured I'd do that and just stay on over in Europe when we went there," Montford said.

At that point, he got a call from another acquaintance who wanted him to produce a contemporary Christian project he was working on in Birmingham, Ala. Montford agreed and has been there ever since. While he has produced all types of music over the years, Montford said producing contemporary Christian music is what he was meant to do.

"The music is more fulfilling, the lyrics are more meaningful, and they have more depth," he said.

One of Montford's primary projects has been working with Co-Love, who will perform June 12 on the Volkswagen Stage as part of Faith and Family Night at Riverbend.

In addition to producing Co-Love's latest CD, "Victory," Montford played keyboard, arranged the horns, co-programmed the drums and co-wrote the songs. The group consists of six family members, including Montford's wife, Christa.

"We met in the mid-'90s in the studio," he said. "They were trying to take their sound to a new place. We met and we talked and explained what we each wanted to do. You could tell the whole family was blessed and anointed with talent.

"We worked well together," he continued. "It turned out to be something I wanted to do. I liked being in the studio and on that creative end of it. I prefer taking nothing and turning it into something."

Though Montford said he grew up in "one of those go-to-church-every-day families," he said he had never officially formulated the idea that he wanted to produce religious music until his initial meetings with Co-Love.

"It wasn't something I started out wanting to do, or I didn't know it at the time," he said.

Today, it's hard for him to imagine doing anything else, he said.

"I've been very blessed, and I don't think anything is impossible," he said. "I've seen too many miracles in my life."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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