Written by | Ray Cornelius
Sassy, bold, raw and edgy are just a few of the adjectives to describe rising vocalist Samantha Montgomery aka Princess Shaw. The New Orleans based singer-songwriter is the subject of a new documentary, “Presenting Princess Shaw,” where Israeli music composer Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel sampled her song “Give It Up” as well as the songs of other musicians from around the world for a You Tube video that became an overnight sensation.
I had a chance to meet the elder care worker turned singer on Thursday night at the Atlanta screening of her film and I talked exclusively to her about her new found fame and how the film has changed her life. We also chatted briefly in front of an audience before she performed a few of her songs.
Shaw has been singing for as far back as she can remember. A native of Chicago, she left the windy city and traveled to Indianapolis and then to San Diego and then back to Indianapolis. However, it wasn’t until she settled down in New Orleans that she decided to pursue her musical ambitions and found her voice.
Princess Shaw and Ray Cornelius during Q&A Session
“So this one time I was recorded myself singing in the shower and was singing with full force and wasn’t afraid to hit those high levels. Then I played it back and was like, ‘WOW.’ I felt very comfortable in that setting and could repeat that. It was me and I felt like I had found myself. I was ok with that setting and was like ‘this is who I am as an artist,'” said Shaw during our interview.
From that point on she began recording more of herself and eventually set up a You Tube channel where she began sharing all of her original songs. One of those tunes caught the eye of Israeli music producer Kutiman and he used it along with a few others to record, “Give It Up.” The song went viral in 2014 and has been viewed by nearly three million people.
Princess Shaw and her musical companion Buzy
“My thing was freestyling. I sing acapella and would take beats from You Tube that I never heard before and just play them and just create a song right then and there. Then it turned my channel into a confessional where I began to purge my soul. It was me talking about my life and just getting it out of my soul. I honestly didn’t think beyond the phone. I would just push publish,” said Shaw regarding her late night confessionals and music sessions on You Tube.
Shaw was later contacted by Kutiman and Ido Haar regarding a documentary about her musical journey and she immediately began filming in New Orleans. However, it wasn’t until she visited Atlanta, to explore the city’s bustling music scene, that she found out that Kutiman’s new version of her song, “Give It Up” was creating quite a buzz on the internet.
Ray Cornelius during Q&A with Princess Shaw
“I didn’t know what song it was and found out it was ‘Give It Up.’ The song had been up on You Tube for a year. My purpose was, ‘please somebody make music with my song’ and finally somebody did. It was beyond anything I could have imagined when I heard it.”
Since it’s release, Shaw has been traveling around the world performing with Kutiman and promoting the film. And while she is not exactly where she would like to be professionally, she’s definitely not where she was when this journey began.
“I feel so sorry for her but that’s still me. I was really screwed up. Like my head was really screwed up at the time. I look at her and I’m like, ‘WOW!” I hope people don’t want me to stay there because people get attached to that sad you. I can still sing with that same emotion but I’m not in that place. I’m like hella better.”
Check out more photos below and click here to see Princess Shaw perform:
Presenting Princess Shaw
Princess Shaw‘s red hair is part of her signature look
Princess Shaw performed all of her original songs including “Give it up”
Princess Shaw with American Idol contestants Terrell and Derrell Brittenum
Princess Shaw and Buzy with a fan
Princess Shaw and Buzy with Doc Robinson and her Atlanta band:
Joey Green, Rod Harris, Loius Styx Newsom and Bill Barlow
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com & Aric “DreamPhotographyGroup” Thompson