Pascale Montgomery released her debut album Listening to Rivers on June 2, pushing a message of environmental protection through her lyrics. Though it’s difficult to fit her music into any one genre, imagine a slow pop tune featuring jazz undertones and an expansive vocal range.
Sounds pretty conventional for an up-and-coming artist, right? Well here’s the catch: Montgomery is only 17 years old and still has to conquer her senior year of high school before any worldwide tours can be booked.
But the natural world is calling. In her deep, echoing track “Listening to Rivers,” there are repeating lines such as “Oh, in the river bed/ The water warms my aching head” and “Flowing through the mountain side/ She is my only guide.”
“Listening, for me, is really important,” Montgomery says. “Not just in music, but listening to what other people have to say and to the environment, because we can’t ignore the problems we have created.”
Montgomery’s passion for the environment extends beyond her earthy tunes. She serves as co-president of the Carmel High School Environmental Club and is working on several local environmental issues. The teen also emphasizes that she can’t picture her life without music and a reverence for the Earth, both of which she plans to study in college.
“Writing ‘Listening to Rivers’ inspired me to take on a project with Elkhorn Slough,” Montgomery recalls. She helped with a fundraiser that brought in $2,000 for the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, with plans to use the money for plantings this winter that will provide habitat for Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders and red-legged frogs.
Montgomery’s music doesn’t stop at county limits either. One track, titled “Patagonia Blue,” is set in South America. “The song is a bit romantic,” Montgomery admits. “But I try to make sure my music isn’t superficial, like just about some boy or girl. It’s a hard line to walk when I’m also a high schooler.”
On the release of Listening to Rivers, Montgomery received a flood of congratulatory texts and social media shout-outs, most of which were unexpected. Montgomery’s biggest obstacle is being a one-woman show without the capability to play all the instruments featured on her album live.
“I want to play the guitar and piano too, but it’s hard to do that all at once in front of a crowd,” Montgomery says. “My big-picture goal is defi