Presenting Princess Shaw is the uplifting story of Samantha Montgomery, a nurse who cares for the elderly and is also an aspiring singer-songwriter. Directed by Ido Haar, the documentary follows Montgomery, whose stage name is Princess Shaw, as she becomes a YouTube sensation thanks to her collaboration with Israeli musician Kutiman. Montgomery had no idea that her song “Give It Up” would be mashed up by Kutiman, and her surprise at the final product and her growing evolution is truly must-see viewing.
During our phone interview with Montgomery, she talked about her Presenting Princess Shaw experience and why, no matter what occurs, the “will to live” continues to burn bright.
How has it been with all the attention your life and this documentary has received?
It’s been pretty surreal for me. It’s amazing. It’s weird. I’m not used to it. But it’s been all a good ride.
It lets us know we’re connected. We’re all human. It’s really been a positive thing for me. When people come to talk to me, I feel honored because they open up to me about stuff but I feel my hands are tied behind my back because I can’t really help them through their struggle. I can talk to them – I can lead them to water but I can’t make them drink. I don’t really know how to help them, that’s the thing. I know what I did, but it doesn’t work for every person.
Has writing and singing always been a part of your life?
I’ve been writing since I was younger. I would write and I would sing, but I didn’t find my voice until I moved to New Orleans. I was always singing all around but it was not in my voice – it was in somebody else’s voice. When I was in New Orleans, in the shower, I found my voice. From that point, I was like ‘I’m going to try and do this and see what happens.’
Your writing comes from a lot of joy and pain. Does that come out of you naturally?
I think it was always there. I was just always shy. The process of me singing has always been a natural flow – a natural flow of things. It’s always been my way. It took me a while to break out from being shy and stand up and say ‘Here I am’ but it’s always been there. It’s just been hidden somewhere.
What was it like traveling to Tel Aviv?
It is – wow. It’s remarkable. I couldn’t imagine traveling to Israel and going to perform in front of all those people. When I did my channel I never looked beyond of (just recording songs). That was my main focus. So going to Israel and all of these places has been surreal. It’s like a dream – a purple haze.
Both you and Kutiman seem to gel. What makes your collaboration tick?
I think for me – we’re kindred spirits. We’re alike. He’s humble and he’s just a cool person. He took the music from my soul and transferred it to sound. For him to do that – I had other producers (work with me) and we didn’t have that kind of connection. We just meshed well. He’s just very supportive and pushes you, but it’s not like a pushy thing, you know what I mean? He’s pretty easy.
Your documentary also details your life as a caretaker for the elderly in New Orleans. What has that job given you?
I’ve always been a nurturer. I’ve always been that way. It makes me feel proud to be able to make life feel comfortable or be there when they’re upset. You become friends with their family (and) it does take a special kind of person to do that. It’s a very rewarding job and it gives me life.
I think it’s inspiring to be in New Orleans. It’s a different vibe here and it’s inspired me because it helped me find my voice. My voice has always been there but it took a change of scenery and people to bring it out.
For you personally, what kept you moving forward as as artist?
The will to live I guess. The pursuit of happiness. Chasing your dream, living with your music and (loving) yourself. Loving what you do and loving life – that’s what keeps me going. The will to be me keeps me going and things I can’t change, I don’t worry about it. It defeats the purpose if you’re worried about something you can’t change. I may fall, but I get up. I may sit there for a minute, I let it all out but I dust myself off and I keep moving. That’s what I do.
Thank you so much for your time and good luck moving forward and take care!
Thank you my darling and you too! Bye-bye.
Presenting Princess Shaw is now playing in select theaters and is available On Demand, Amazon Video, and iTunes. The documentary is discussed on this week’s episode of CinemAddicts, click on the media bar below to listen!