Ray LaMontagne Walks Out Of A Shoe Factory And Into A Record Contract

It was a day like any other when Ray LaMontagne’s alarm clock radio went off at 4 a.m. six years ago and he had an epiphany. The sound that came from this early morning wake-up call was unlike anything he had heard before. The song was "Tree Top Flyer," the artist was Stephen Stills, and something in the music moved him — awakening his spirit.

- Jan 4, 2005

It was a day like any other when Ray LaMontagne’s alarm clock radio went off at 4 a.m. six years ago and he had an epiphany. The sound that came from this early morning wake-up call was unlike anything he had heard before. The song was "Tree Top Flyer," the artist was Stephen Stills, and something in the music moved him — awakening his spirit. He didn’t go to his job that day, which at the time was a gig at a shoe factory in Lewiston, Maine. Instead, LaMontagne spent the day browsing the local record stores, finding the Stills’ album Stills Alone. "I just got really psyched about music all of a sudden," he says. "I hadn’t really before. I’ve always liked music. My father was a musician… I don’t really know my father and I don’t really want to at this point… that’s a whole other story." That epiphany has now morphed itself into Trouble, his major-label debut on RCA Records. It's a soul-bearing record and the 31-year-old is equally candid about his life story before this reawakening. "In my early 20s I went through a really hard time," LaMontagne says. "I had bouts with serious depression and suicide. Then I discovered Stephen Stills and I got really excited about music and I just started listening to records all the time." LaMontagne admits he doesn’t like to socialize and that he’s not good with people. But, when he steps to the mic his fears are temporarily put at bay. Blessed with vocals that have more passion than a lover’s farewell kiss, LaMontagne may hide behind his music, but that’s because his compositions have given this soulful songwriter a raison d’être. "I finally feel like I have found my purpose," he says. "This [music] is what I’m supposed to do — for good or bad, it’s something I have to follow." From working in a shoe factory to singing songs for a living, the Maine musician’s journey is far from complete. With a voice that combines the soul of the late Ray Charles and the grit of Otis Redding, LaMontagne is poised to make a career in the music business. "I’m hoping to leave at least two good songs, but I’ll take one," he concludes. "If in 10 years I have one song that will outlive me I’ll think it was worth it." —David McPherson

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