Shirley Montague has called Norris Point home for more than 45 years. Originally from North West River in Labrador, she moved to Norris Point with her husband in the 1970s. It was here that Shirley did most of her song writing, largely inspired by the beauty of nature in Gros Morne National Park.
Shirley was born into a very musical family, spending lots of time with her aunts, uncles, and cousins making music at family events. At the age of 17, Shirley was in her first band in North West River, playing primarily at dances in the community. They played everything from the Beatles to country music to square dance music.
Once Shirley left home, she lived in Goose Bay to attend college, where she formed another band with her uncle and two cousins, mostly doing covers of popular music.
Around this time, Shirley traveled to St. John’s to visit a friend, which is where she met her future husband, someone she says is the first person to hear every song she writes. He’s her biggest supporter, but isn’t afraid to tell her if a certain lyric or chord isn’t quite working in her newest song.
After a short performing hiatus when she first arrived in Norris Point, Shirley began playing at folk festivals across the province and also began to write her own music. Shirley says that for her, song writing begins first with inspiration, that she needs to be inspired before she is able to write a meaningful song. She says she doesn’t have a process, but before writing a song, she thinks about her subject and does some research. For example, when she wrote her song about the Tablelands, she took geology and local lore into consideration, then pieced together a beautiful song.
Shirley’s music truly does come from a love of our province and the beautiful sights it provides. When asked if she had ever considered living somewhere that music was more predominant, such as Nashville, she replied, “A lot of what I sing about and what I write about and what I talk about is just a sense of place and love of place… What would I do in Nashville? They’ve got too much pavement down there.” Shirley’s love of nature keeps her rooted here, and continues to provide inspiration for her newest songs.