Eli Montgomery is a 23 Year Old Aiken-based singer/songwriter. A local through and through, Eli studied Communications at USC Aiken after attending Aiken High School. Since graduating college in 2012, he has been writing and performing songs throughout the CSRA. While working at both the South Company and Books-A-Million, Eli has built a sizable body of work, which includes an upcoming album. All the while, he has kept a steady eye on his goal of breaking free from the rat-race and making music his sole career.
With his unmistakable red-dyed dreadlocks, Eli has a laid-back style that might be described as urban-hippy. His songs have a distinct neo-soul flavor (think John Legend and Lauryn Hill), with an indie/alternative edge. They take unexpected melodic turns and usually build to a soaring, hooky chorus. He tends to deliver these with an awesomely powerful voice that ranges from an appealingly raspy lower register, to pure, vibrato-laden heights. Seriously folks, he can really belt it.
We recently sat down with Eli to ask him about his influences, and his future plans:
Art in all its forms has always fascinated me: paintings, music, poetry, theater, etc. I guess that is why I found myself wandering through an art studio some years ago in Cade’s Cove, Tennessee. I was strolling through and enjoying painted scenes of fluffy white snow weighing down tree branches alongside rustic cabins with glowing fireplaces. Then I saw “it”; the ugliest painting ever. It was a painting of a burned out tree stump with background colors in drab grays and muted greens. I walked past the print wondering what the artist was thinking. After a short time my curiosity got the better of me. I returned for a second look. As I examined the painting more closely it vividly captured the cold, wet remains of a tree charred by a late autumn forest fire. But, what eventually was revealed was a small green sprig of new growth pushing through the lifeless bark of the stump. The title of the print finally made sense to me. It was called “Hope”. The artist had captured the triumph of hope over despair. The artist’s wife, the partner poet, wrote a poem to complement the painting. It reads:
When life seems colored in tones of gray, and the last little spark has flickered away, Thru unbroken darkness you stumble and grope; You’re still not broken, just hold onto hope.
The three that abide are faith, hope and love, So pick up that dream and give it a shove. And never cry “uncle” and never say “die”, Cause darkness is thickest as dawn draws neigh!
I love my ugly painting and poem and I have kept it in my office all these years. It has sustained me in my dark times. Whenever I have felt lost or broken I look at it and remember, “…darkness is thickest as dawn draws neigh!”
One of the joys of being a yoga teacher is that I get to witness a change in people that most don’t get to see. During an hour-long practice, I see a room full of people lose their facades and fall into the moment. I see faces soften, shoulders relax, and defenses fall away.
I am honored and grateful to be a teacher of yoga because I introduce my students to an ancient path of awareness that balances the physical and spiritual self.
Yoga is more than just doing poses.
The beauty and inspiration of yoga is that it consists of many different elements. While most people are familiar with the physical aspects of yoga, Asana practice is only one discipline. I believe there is a right Yoga for everybody and every “body”. Some other types of yoga include: Chair Yoga, Stretch Yoga and Restorative Yoga for flexibility and suppleness. There is Power or Vinyasa Yoga to build strength, Hot Yoga for detoxing and Yin Yoga. If you are interested in more peace, more spirit, more love, then other paths of yoga may be more rewarding for you. There is always more to learn and because of that, we are all students. The practice of yoga can open yourself to the possibilities of life and empower you.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Some practices are hard. Some flow with ease. At one time or another, we all feel like swearing at our teachers as we hold a pose. Every time we practice yoga, we have the opportunity to be in the present, to stop the stories of why we are the way we are, and just be. It sounds easy, but it is one of the most challenging parts of the practice. Staying with each breath as it unfolds is the most advanced part of yoga.
It is important to feel yoga, not perform yoga.
I do not look like a svelte cover model yogi. I cannot do certain poses. Without thought or judgment, we let sensation be our guide as our breathing lets energy flood in, and stress and stagnation seep away. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to others. It only matters how it feels to you. What we do on our mats is practice for what happens in our “out of the studio” world. We learn to stay present while driving, doing the dishes, and mowing the lawn. Yoga helps us through times of discomfort, and in meeting the mundane aspects of our lives with acceptance, not resistance . Yoga is a not just something I do. It is the way I live my life. I encourage everyone to start where they are and let the practice evolve, unfold, and transform you.