As dusk paints a sleepy Houston morning, Montreea’s eyes are focused on the laptop screen before her. Her list of international recording studio clients has exploded, spreading from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Slovakia and England. She pauses to decline an offer to sing a hook for a famous rapper. The song celebrates alcohol and Montreea wants no part of it. After years touring on various circuits – blues, gospel, women’s music, gay music – even a stint touring with disabled artists, she knows what works and what doesn’t. Her music career has had more peaks and valleys than a vintage roller coaster ride at Astroworld weaving in and out of magazine headlines, national television and film. Dubbed an “underground musical genius” by Curve Magazine, Montreea is unlike any other women in modern music.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Montreea’s path to music began as a child as she accompanied her father, the late Rev. A.J. Bailey, on tour throughout the South. While honing her gospel chops, she studied classical music at Houston’s famed High School for the Performing & Visual Arts and eventually landed a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. There she attended master classes with industry legends such as Quincy Jones, Sting and Patti LaBelle. Montreea graduated with honors majoring in music business and audio engineering.
Over the next decade, Montreea recorded under the stage identity of Miss Money, an openly gay, androgynous woman. During this time, she topped various underground charts. and appeared in many news publications including the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, Rolling Stone Magazine and Computer Music Magazine. While sitting in her studio, she asserts, “The gayer I was, the more masculine I was, the more awards I won.” These awards included a Texas Achievement Award and the coveted dj residency at Houston’s largest lesbian club, G-Spot. Her intense buzz in music landed her a role in the groundbreaking film, “Pick Up the Mic” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside film debuts by Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Madonna.
In 2004, on the brink of signing a seven figure record deal, Montreea received devastating news after a doctor’s visit confirmed she was losing her ability to walk. Assuming her music career was over, Montreea quit music and began to devise a suicide plan. One day, a local minister who had heard a mixtape, encouraged Montreea to try singing gospel music. Montreea admits, “I had no desire to sing gospel music because few singers make it in gospel and I didn’t think I’d be embraced since I was openly gay and in a wheelchair.” While the wheelchair remained, homosexuality did not. Montreea left her lesbian marriage, dropped the name Miss Money and began a grueling seven year gospel tour. During this time, industry execs noticed her grind and she was cast in the sixth season of BET’s Sunday Best after beating out 15,000 singers.
Montreea’s testimony of deliverance from sexual sin has been viewed online nearly 2 million times and is chronicled in the 2018 film, “Here’s My Heart”. Her book, My Escape from Sodom, will be available later this year and details the winding music industry journey that nearly killed her. Though rebuilding her life and career from a wheelchair hasn’t been easy, Montreea jokes, “It’s better than a coffin.” She continues to record, produce and tour extensively sharing her cautionary tale of sex, sin and ambition. Through it all, Montreea is still here.