Born and raised in Chicago, 39-year-old Samantha Montgomery moved to New Orleans in 2006. By day, she works as a caregiver for the elderly and, by night, she fearlessly performs as Princess Shaw online and at local open mics.
Inspired by her personal joy and pain from past and present, Princess’ lyrics resonate with honesty and emotion in a very visceral way. It’s this truth that inspires her collaborator Kutiman as well as the emerging fans who have discovered their viral hit “Give It Up.”
Here, she talks about her very uplifting biopic, Presenting Princess Shaw, which will be in theaters, On Demand and on iTunes starting May 27.
Hi Princess, thanks for the interview.
Thank You, Sugar!
When did you develop an interest in singing and songwriting?
When I was very young, but I didn’t really find my own voice and my own sound until much later—around 2012.
How hard was it finding time to pursue your dream while working long days in the nursing home?
It’s just about finding balance and making time to do what you love.
Were you ever discouraged when the videos of yourself you put on YouTube failed to generate much traffic?
No, because I didn’t put the videos up for other people, I put them up for me, as something to do for myself.
How about when you weren’t picked to be a contestant on the reality TV series The Voice?
They want you to share your story on those shows, and I just felt that wasn’t the right time for me to share my story, so I didn’t. When Ido [director Ido Haar] came along, I knew he was someone that I could trust and felt comfortable sharing my story with.
When was the first time you heard of Kutiman?
I had heard a mash-up of his about a year before he released mine, but didn’t connect that the two were the same person until much later. I wasn’t familiar with his name at all when he released his video with me.
What did you think when you heard what he’d done with your songs?
I was so happy and excited—like he took the music that was in my heart and put it out into the world. The music that he put with my lyrics was exactly what I wanted and had always heard in my heart.
How surprised were you to learn that Ido Haar was making a movie about you?
Initially, Ido was making a documentary about several of the YouTubers that Kutiman was including in his videos, although none of us knew we were being included. But slowly, over time, it narrowed down to just me and Kuti. Ido said that every time he left New Orleans his heart was telling him to come back. I had no idea that he and Kutiman knew each other when he started filming me, or even when I heard the song for the first time.
What was it like meeting Kutiman in person?
It was amazing, like finding a musical soulmate. He is like a brother to me now, and we have become great friends.
What message do you think people will take away from Presenting Princess Shaw?
That you survive the struggle in your life and if you keep going and keep pursuing the thing that feeds your soul, it’s worth it.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see someone who has a lot of love for herself now, and that’s beautiful.
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 3, 2016
Me Before You (PG-13 for suggestive material and mature themes) Adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ romance novel about the love which blossoms between a small town nurse (Emilia Clarke) and a wealthy gentleman (Sam Claflin) left paralyzed and depressed by a recent motorcycle accident. Supporting cast includes Vanessa Kirby, Charles Dance and Jenna Coleman.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (R for sexuality, drug use, graphic nudity and pervasive profanity) Musical mockumentary revolving around the trials and tribulations of a desperate one-hit wonder (Andy Samberg) whose second album is flopping. Ensemble cast includes Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph, and features cameo appearances by Simon Cowell, Jimmy Fallon, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Adam Levine, Usher and Seal.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (PG-13 for sci-fi violence) Live-action adaptation of the video game of the same name finds the crime-fighting quartet (Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Alan Ritchson and Jeremy Howard) battling their revenge-minded nemesis, Shredder (Brian Tee), who has joined forces with a diabolical mad scientist (Tyler Perry). With Megan Fox, Laura Linney, Will Arnett and Brad Garrett.
Approaching The Unknown (R for profanity) Sci-fi thriller about an American astronaut (Mark Strong) on a one-way mission to Mars. With Luke Wilson, Sanaa Lathan and Charles Baker.
Art Bastard (Unrated) Reverential biopic about maverick artist Robert Cenedella, an inveterate iconoclast who has managed to enjoy an enduring career without compromising his rebellious spirit.
The Final Master (Unrated) Martial arts adventure, set in China before World War II, about an ambitious Wing Chun practitioner (FanLiao) who must defeat eight dojos in order to open his own karate school. With Jia Song, Wenli Jiang and Shih-Chieh Chin. (In Mandarin and English with subtitles)
The Fits (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama, set in Cincinnati, chronicling an 11-year-old tomboy’s (Royalty Hightower) attempt to find acceptance by joining a tight-knit dance team at the local rec center. With Alexis Neblett, Inayah Rodgers and Makyla Burnam.
The God Cells (Unrated) Healthcare documentary exploring the viability of fetal stem cell injection therapy for a variety of neurological and immunological ailments.
It’s So Easy And Other Lies (Unrated) Warts-and-all biopic about Guns N’ Roses’ bass player Duff McKagan, chronicling his fame and fortune as well as his near-fatal struggle with alcohol and drugs. featuring commentary by Slash, Nikki Sixx and Benny Urquidez.
Time To Choose (Unrated) Eco-documentary, directed by Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson (Inside Job) and narrated by Oscar Isaac, exploring solutions for the climate change crisis.
Urge (R for disturbing violence and sexual behavior, drug use and pervasive profanity) Suspense thriller about a mysterious nightclub owner (Pierce Brosnan) who introduces some revelers to a new designer drug which strips them of their inhibitions. With Ashley Greene, Alexis Knapp and Danny Masterson.
The Witness (Unrated) Bystander Effect documentary revisiting the murder of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese in Queens in the wee hours of March 13, 1964 which awakened 38 of her neighbors, all of whom failed to call the police.