George Montrelle elegantly celebrates a life filled with love, beauty and tranquility.
The Ferndale rock-soul singer-songwriter and guitarist shares that personal mindset on his latest electrifying single, “Paradise,” as a romantic, grateful ode to his longtime partner.
“I’ve had that song more since the beginning of my relationship with my partner, and I wanted to validate how much I appreciate his love for me. This was one of the songs I felt strongest about early on, and I’ve been showing it to people for a while now,” said George Wilson, aka George Montrelle.
He reveals, “Here for you till the end/Amaranthine love my friend/The very heart on which you can depend/Here for you for the rest our lives without a stress/Baby, forever, we will love no less.”
“I’ve tried to record this song a handful of times, and I finally just said, ‘I just need to get this done.’ I decided not to overanalyze it, but I also gave it my best,” said Wilson, who recorded and produced the track in his home studio.
For Montrelle, “Paradise” not only acknowledges the growth of his relationship, but also the evolution of the track from the stage to the studio. In 2018, he started performing a live version of “Paradise” with a full band before audiences at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME).
“I didn’t have a steady band all the time, so when I wanted to put this song out, I was either gonna hire a drummer and record all the guitars myself, which I did. Or I was gonna track the drums using the sequencer in Ableton, and that’s what’s on the release,” Wilson said.
“I tried to embody what might feel good on stage, and I tried different arrangements. I also developed the verses so it felt progressively fluent throughout the whole song and understood how the drums and guitars needed to work while the vocals sat through everything.”
“Paradise” serves as Montrelle’s second compelling single since releasing the soulful “Here” in December. As his debut single, “Here” openly spotlights the importance of loyalty, humility and authenticity in lifelong love.
Striking drums, sensual bass, tingling cymbals, shimmery synths, soft electric guitars and effervescent percussion instill a deep-seated R&B groove and swagger as Montrelle admits, “Digging in the dirt/Where the pain really hurts/Pulling up weeds we don’t need/‘Cause you deserve/Nothing but the best from me.”
“I was influenced by Allen Stone, and he was writing about his relationship in a way that was humbling and down-to-earth, like ‘I’m imperfect, and I don’t know everything, but I’m trying and committed. I love how I have the opportunity to be in this relationship,’” said Wilson, who recorded and produced the track.
“It was referencing the hard times and the good times, but knowing through it all, you make mistakes. I also had a classic R&B thing in my mind, and I thought about genre and different things being vocabulary for the soul, like the lyrics and the music.”
Outside of his two latest singles, Montrelle graduated from DIME in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in commercial songwriting. As a student, he collaborated with former DIME classmates on two soulful, jazzy singles, “Over Your Love” and “One Look,” from the school’s Volume 3 (2017) and Volume 4 (2018) Sessions compilation albums, respectively.
“I really gained a network and an opportunity to show myself in front of people that I probably wouldn’t have been able to. And I learned it’s really possible to do exactly what you want,” said Wilson, who also auditioned for “American Idol” during his years at DIME.
Musical Beginnings and Beyond
Montrelle started learning about music when he took up the trumpet at age nine. He eventually added the baritone, guitar and bass to his musical repertoire while growing up in metro Detroit.
“In high school, I picked up bass, and I was filling in for different jams and learning my friends’ songs as well as ones from Metallica, Wolfmother and Fall Out Boy,” he said.
“That vocabulary in terms of how to play guitar really stuck and stayed with me, so that was in the mix when I was learning bass and guitar as well as learning how to sing.”
As an aspiring vocalist, musician and songwriter, Montrelle sought additional inspiration from an eclectic range of artists, including Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Public Enemy, Kayne West, Paramore, The Fall of Troy and Hiatus Kaiyote.
“I was experimenting with heavier forms of music, but eventually I grew out of that and still appreciate the talent that goes into it,” he said.
Montrelle continued to write and play music while attending Oakland College Community, where he received an associate’s degree. By 2016, he learned about DIME through a friend and enrolled in a vocal short course before becoming a full-time student.
“Sometimes you just have to go and do trial and error, and sometimes you know what you’re doing, and sometimes you don’t. I gained the willingness and the desire to follow through and just go for things, and that was probably the biggest thing I learned,” Wilson said.
Montrelle also racked up a series of live shows at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Concert of Colors at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Willis Show Bar and the Underground at DIME.
“I’ve arranged a new band, and I plan to have at least one member from that band playing with me whether it be cajon or piano. I will play a mix of songs, including a new track that’s on the way called ‘Bonafide’ and soul covers like ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye,” Wilson said.
In addition to his live show, Montrelle will drop a new single, “Yours,” on Aug. 27 and continue writing and recording new material for his upcoming debut album, Love Unfolding.
“Love Unfolding is a metaphor, and it represents an opportunity for me to share my love for myself, my partner, my craft and my passion. It talks about a lot of the growth that I’ve experienced in order to write the tracks that will be on there,” Wilson said.