Montell Frazier is known by fans as Montell Fish, and he’s an artist on the rise. The Pittsburgh native began creating music in his teens to process his life, including his parents’ divorce, his own breakups, sporadic drug use and his faith in Jesus.
In an interview with Billboard, Fish says that the true beginning of his search for God began when he “was just so low and depressed that [he] started calling out to God like, ‘If you’re real, show me,’” he explains. “And then [he] began to see the God that [his] mom knew.”
Since that time, Fish has remained true to his faith, while also desiring to produce music that tackles emotions and the hard issues in life. And that vulnerability has amassed him more than 1 million followers on TikTok, with over 35 million likes and over 4 million monthly Spotify users.
And his following continues to increase, especially with the release of his latest album, JAMIE–powered in part by the single, “darling.” The track, which sounds similar to something from Bon Iver, has made it to No. 3 on Spotify’s New Music Friday list, and it’s all about Fish processing a poignant breakup–one that has deeply affected him.
Fish asks his ex-girlfriend if she is still “in love,” knowing quite well that she has already fallen out of love with him. Still, he asks her not to “run away” but to stay near.
He knows this isn’t possible, realizing midway through that God says to him “I am here for you” as he processes his breakup, a relationship he says he’s finally releasing (“I’m finally lettin’ you go”).
Parents should know that this song is, in fact, sad. Some could argue that listening to sad music only heightens your emotional state, and while that may be true in large portions, there are no other issues to be found.
Fish says that his music is marked by his life experiences–his desire is to create authentic, transparent music.
This has been tricky over the years, especially with the release of his latest album, JAMIE. In it, he’s taken a turn away from explicitly Christian music and many fans have shrugged him off due to the change, while others have flocked to hear what he is trying to say.
Yet, Fish is clear in defining the kind of music he wants to make: “I didn’t want to make gospel or contemporary Christian music, so I began experimenting.”
And experimenting is certainly what he’s done.
His style vacillates between ethereal vocals similar to that of Bon Iver and the seeming stylistic touch of a musician who appreciates jazz, R&B, rock, pop and alternative tracks. And he continues to release all of his music under the Christian genre in the hopes of redefining just what “Christian music” means.
And while some may have an issue with that, his lyrics aren’t explicit or inappropriate, they often talk about God and reading Scripture, and they most pointedly work through heavy emotions–something that marks everyone at some point in life.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).