HI, i am Zack Montana

From Radio Disney's NEXT BIG THINGS (NBT) Season 4 2011. I created this blog, so you can all get to know me a little better. It gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts. You can only write a few sentences at a time on Twitter and Facebook. So,this gives me a chance to write my thoughts out and keep you up to date on all that is Happening in The Zack Attack Zone! Thanks for stopping by! Follow your Dreams!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 My Year in Review and Radio Disney's NBT

2011 Started off with me being part of a Boys Band Called, "East West Boys"   I was the youngest of the 5 members.  The oldest was 23 and the next closest in age to me was 16.  So, It was really important that I did not disappoint these guys and I worked extra hard to keep up with the choreography and vocals.  The band was put together by Phoenix Stone and Sybil Hall, the two people who started The Backstreet Boys.  This was also where I met Lady GaGa Choreographer Richard Jackson.  Richard is an amazing Choreographer and it was really exciting for me to be working with a guy who was working with the Biggest Artist in the world.

East West Boys was already established in Japan.  They were signed to Sony Japan and they were replacing two members of their original line up.  I was one of the replacements.....  I wasn't sure how it would work out, because I was so young..... but I was willing to give it my all and thought it would be a great experience for me.

During the Month of January, I was also working on a Solo Demo with The Jam Music.  Jordan Omley and Mike Mani are well respected music producers and I recorded my first solo song called, "When it Rains in LA" in January 2011.  I was so proud of how this song came out and I must have impressed Mike and Jordan, because the next thing I knew while I was still in the studio, I got a visit from Ray Brown who is with Nick Cannon and N'Credible Records.  He really loved the song and we all decided to keep working on music, so I could potentially be signed to N'Credible Records.

With Jordan Omley and Mike Mani of The Jam Music
I was still working with The East West Boys and also recording solo music.  My heart was into being a solo artist.  But, I also loved working with East West and the bond I was forming with them.  Especially working with Richard Jackson and gaining experience on what it was like to rehearse to a dance routine and also do live mike rehearsals.  Dancing is one thing, Singing is one thing, singing and dancing together is a whole different ball game.  So, I was just a 13 year old kid having fun, trying to live my dream and taking steps towards my dreams coming true.

In February 2011, I recorded my second song, "Feelin' Like Michael"  The Jam called me in for a meeting one day and we were going over the type of music I wanted to do.  Jordan asked me, "If you can do three different types of songs, what would they be about?"  The first one was me saying I wanted to do a song about Michael Jackson, because he was my inspiration and why I was even involved in music to begin with.  I mean Michael Jackson to me was just amazing in all he did. He just did not sing, he put on a show.  His videos were like Movies.  That is something that I always wanted to do.  The Next song we talked about was a relationship between a girl and a guy, you know..... how you wonder if a girl really likes you or not.  Wanting to know if she was serious.  Waiting for that point, where I can't take it anymore, lol.  Are we on the same page or not.  The other song I said, I wanted to do was originally a song about Kobe Bryant... or a sports themed anthem.  Because I love basketball so much.
Zack Montana and Aaron Fresh at The Jam Music
after recording "Feelin' Like Michael"

Well a week later, I was back at the JAM Studios recording, "Feelin' Like Michael"  Because the song was written that day, we were in the studio for 12 hours.  Jordan was amazing with his lyrics and creativity.  He took the titles of a lot of Michael's songs and turned them into lyrics.  My Favorite line is, "I met her in hip hop class, she was a Dancin' Machine.  I couldn't take my eyes off her, Dancing to Billie Jean.  She Said, I know you Bad, I said, you're such a Thriller. " It was awesome. I was surprised later that night when I was joined in the Studio By Aaron Fresh.  And he did a guest appearance on the song. I really enjoyed working with Aaron and learned a lot........"Feelin' Like Michael"  was born and I was so excited about it.

March 2011, brought about a a change that would lead to my audition for Radio Disney.  I was working my butt off with The East West Boys..... We were now rehearsing 4 hours a night, 4 nights a week and to be honest... we were kicking butt.....  we sounded great and we looked great.  I was really excited about an upcoming showcase for Jason Flom of Lava Records.  I was so excited and I put everything I had into this showcase.  All of us did, all 5 members put in countless hours of hard work into a 4 song set and two heavily choreographed dance routines.  We definitely had it down.  Well, the night before our showcase, Phoenix and Sybil, invited some industry friends they had to watch us rehearse.  The feedback was amazing and I really felt like I was 24 hours away from being offered a record contract.

As fate would have it...... Jason Flom's flight was delayed and he never got to see us.  We waited at SIR Studios for 4 hours, hoping he would show up.  We were all disappointed, but I was really mad.  People know me as an easy going kid who just let's things roll off my shoulders.  But, I also have a lot of passion and when I work so hard for something and it doesn't happen, it just burns inside my gut.  I go out and play basketball until I can't play anymore.

I remember lowering my basketball hoop to the lowest height and just jamming the basketball over and over until my arms were black & blue.  But, when things like this happen to me, it just makes me work harder and my passion grows to prove something.

My dad/manager  talked to my Agent Karim at The Polygon Group and gave him the green light to pursue whatever avenue possible for me as a solo Artist.  The Following Day my Dad received a call from Karim letting him know that I had a general meeting with 5 of Disney's Top Execs in April.

I got busy with The Jam and we recorded, what you would all know as my signature song, "Serious".  We worked hard on this song and I really loved the way it came out.  One of the things that made this song, was Mike Mani saw me dancing on my youtube video..... doing my dance to The Black Eyed Peas smash, "Boom Boom Pow"  So, track wise...... Mike tried to pattern the song to highlight my Dancing ability.....  Which is where that cool break comes in.  When I first heard that, I was like.... "Oh Man that is so cool, it is like Asian Break Dance Music."  Jordan took what we spoke about in our prior meeting and wrote the lyrics, "I need to know if you're Serious"

April was the month, my life would change!  I was so excited for my meeting with Disney..... I did a video to Serious, so they could see me dance.  As you can see, I still use some of the same moves in that song when I perform it live.  That video was the first time I danced to the song, it is fun to look back on it  now.  By the way this is the first time, I am showing anyone this video publicly.  :-)

Well, On April 7th we walked into Radio Disney and before we went up the elevators to the top floor, Me and my Dad gathered to pray as we always do before I perform or have an important audition.  My faith is very important to me and nothing or no one will ever change that.

We went upstairs with my agent Karim and  Mike & Jordan from the Jam Music.  The first person I met was Kelly Edwards..... Little did I know then how much that lady would mean to my life.  I remember thinking she was really pretty, lol.  And that she was asking me questions about school and what kind of music I liked.  She also told me to be ready for a lot of questions once everyone entered the conference room.

My Autographed Photo of Zendaya Coleman
 given to me by Steven Vincent.
Shortly thereafter, Steven Vincent the Vice President, Music and Soundtracks, and two of Disney's Casting Directors attended the meeting.  After the introduction and a lot of questions.... I sang, "Please Don't Go Girl" Acapella and Steven Vincent said, "Wow you have a strong voice"

We then put in the three songs we recorded up to that point and we played, "Serious", "Feelin' Like Michael" and "When it Rains in L.A."  I knew they liked the songs when I saw their expressions.  They then played my video of me Dancing to "Serious"

The meeting was going great and I felt really excited.  The casting directors then asked me if I watched Disney Channel and if I did... what was my favorite Disney Show and why.  I said, "OK... I am not going to lie.... Shake it up, because I just Love Zendaya"  They all laughed.

Steven Vincent made my Day when he invited me to his office and gave me an autographed photo of Zendaya Coleman.  It's still hangs in my room today.  

After the meeting was over, Kelly Edwards spoke to my Agent about me being part of NBT.  To be honest, I really did not know what NBT was.  But, after researching it and seeing what the format was... I was pretty excited about it. Even though at the time, I was wondering it it was something I wanted to do.

In May, I had to submit two songs to  Radio Disney and get clearances on the songs.  They had to make sure the lyrics were clean and that they would be accepted into the Radio Disney Format.  

We had a lot of meetings and trying to figure out what songs we would submit to Radio Disney as our second song.  We already knew "Serious"  would be the song.... but, we decided to go into the studio and record my 4th Song.  The track was awesome, I remember listening to the track for the first time and I was really excited.  It wasn't the sports anthem that I wanted, but it does have a line in it that says, "I got my kobe's on"

Jordan Omley had just played me a song from his new upcoming rap album and I was like, "Oh cool man!  I would love to have a rap in one of my songs"  So then we talked about Anti Bullying and the next thing you know, "Shorty's with me" was born!  The song was originally about me playing basketball at the park and this older kid was hatin on me because a girl he likes, is all into me.  So, it was like me just handling the situation.
So many times.... people can be good friends, but end up having unnecessary fights or anger over jealousy.  It's not cool and the more I got involved with NBT and started listening to my fans, I realized what a problem Bullying is.  So..... it is important to take a stand against bullying.

With Nick Cannon in May 2011 at Paramount Studios
As soon as I got done recording "Shorty's with me"  Jordan told me that Nick Cannon wanted to see me.  My Dad and I went to see him and he started discussing ideas of what he wanted to do. He wanted me to be part of another boy band.  I was like, "I don't know.... I think I am done with Boy Bands"

Nick invited me to an event at Paramount Studios, so I went with my agent to Check it out.  I got to hang out with Nick and met a lot of people there.  We then had another meeting that week and got to meet the other members of the group.  As much as I respect Nick and I am still friends with him today.  I just did not think a boys band was right for me and I had to follow my heart.

With my First Group Called "Boyz Crew"

Last June at The Polygon Group signing my NBT Contract
In June, I received my contract from Radio Disney for Season 4 2011 NBT!  What I was excited about was, it was a chance for me to show people what I could do as a solo artist.  I was in two previous Boy Bands... Boyz Crew and East West Boys.  Both groups had 5 members in it.  So, it is definitely not the same, when you are in a Boys Band with 4 other members, you don't have to be the focus all of the time.  But, when you are solo, all eyes are on you the whole time.  Which means the work load increased greatly.

But, I was ready and I signed the NBT Contract in June. Immediately, I got to work with Richard Jackson to help me put together routines.  It was exciting and I was dedicated to the uncharted waters I was about to experience.

During July, I realized how much work I had ahead of me.  I had a debut concert at The Americana on July 28th.  It was a lot harder then I thought it would be.  I rehearsed 4 days a week on my routine.  Looking back I wish I would have spent more time preparing vocally.  I did not realize how much the dance routine would effect my vocals.

The First time performing with other NBT Artist with Jake
I was also really excited about getting new fans on my facebook page and twitter account.  It was all new to me and fun at the same time.  As time got closer to the first show, I was starting to wonder who were going to be the other Artists of NBT and had no idea that I would form such great friendships.

With My Choreographer Richard Jackson and
Jonathan George
The rest of the month, I had my first interview with Ernie D and Jake over the phone and it was really pretty amazing. I was like, "Could this really be happening?"

Then, when it was time for the Americana Show, I was interviewed by a bunch of Media Outlets and it was pretty incredible.  I look back at some of my first interviews and it's kind of funny to see how much I have grown in just a few months.  I really look so young.  I was also working hard with Richard and Jonathan George who basically started with me and developed me since I was with The Hollywood Hipsters back in 2007 when I first moved to Los Angeles.  I really owe Jonathan a lot for what he has done for me.

It was show time for my first show at Americana!  I was nervous but excited for my first show as a solo Artist.  It was an exciting day!  I met my fans for the first time and did my first meet & greet after the show!  It was a day, I will never forget.  I was also incredibly happy that my Brother Billy got to see me perform before he went back to New York for College.                                                                   Even though I felt great about my performance.  I felt I was much stronger on my choreography then I was my vocals.  I knew I had a lot to work on and a lot to improve.  But, for the first time being onstage as a solo Artist, I was pretty happy!  It was also a day that I got to meet my first set of fans who have turned into friends today.  It was a really great experience and to see people react to me dancing and singing on stage was a real thrill.  I remember singing, "Please don't go girl"  And when I pointed at a group of girls, they just went crazy screaming and it felt so awesome! :-)  My Aunt and two cousins drove up from San Diego to come see me perform 3 songs.  It was so nice of them.
Meeting Coco Jones at The House of Blues 
The following night, I was introduced as one of the 5 finalists at the House of Blues in Hollywood, CA. Cody Simpson was headlining The 15th Birthday of Radio Disney.  Coco Jones NBT Alumni Season 3 played along with Shane Harper.                                                           After the show I got a chance to meet Coco Jones and her Mom.  Wow I did not realize how tall Coco was!  She was so nice!                                  It was also the first time I got to spend time with some of the other NBT Artists, especially Tay Barton and Ladina Spence.  I really enjoyed spending time with them and getting a taste of things to come.  I also was able to bring my brother Billy with me, who most people thought was my bodyguard, lol.
 As we were leaving the House of Blues, there were a few fans waiting for me and asked if they could take my picture with them.  I couldn't believe it.  It felt kinda weird as it never happened to me before.  But, I enjoyed it.  We then went across the street and ate dinner at my favorite hamburger place Carney's on Sunset Blvd.  The Next day I got to Hang out at Demi's house with Maddie and I played basketball with Dallas Lovato.  She is really awesome and they have been great friends to me.                                                                        
In August after I was introduced publicly as a Finalist for Radio Disney's Next Big Thing, I knew I had a lot of work to do and a lot to prepare for.  I had approximately 2 weeks to prepare for production week in mid August.  This was such an important week, because it was going to be a big part of where I placed in the Competition.  It was going to be on film for the world to see, so it was important to do the best I could.

One of my biggest challenges was taking my two songs, "Serious" and "Shorty's with me" and turning them into acoustic versions.  Taking two urban pop dance songs and turning them into acoustic versions was not a small task.  I had my friend Johnny Ray Singh, who I met as a Youth Church Leader at my Church, Play Acoustic Guitar...... and my Friend Paige Augusta to do background vocals and percussion.  With a Special Appearance by Jordan Omley who does the Rap.  We rehearsed 4 times a week for two weeks to try and work it out.  I was pleased with the outcome which was Recorded at The Radio Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.  
  I really loved, "Shorty's with me" just because it was so drastic from the original and how we made it sound bluesy in the beginning, along with building the tempo as the song progressed and the guitar pauses, was awesome!  I have to Thank my Dad/Manager for that, because he was the one who worked out all the parts.  He kept saying, "Something is missing"  Then he walked to Guitar Center, lol and walked around there for two hours and came home with a shaker and a tamborine.  My dad is very creative and he knows how to get what he hears in his head.  So, after playing around with different ways to do it, we finally settled on how we wanted it and it turned out really good!
Also during production week, was one live performance of Serious at The Music Box in Hollywood, meeting Cody Simpson, who I had gotten some advice from.  Cody was cool....After the Americana, I started to run and sing with my vocal coach..... but when I asked Cody and he told me he does the same thing, I knew I was on the right track. 
With Cody Simpson during NBT Production week August 2011

To be totally honest, I was sick with a cold during production week.  My voice was changing, my throat was really killing me and I was so excited to be meeting my new friends and working on the show for the whole week, that I just blocked everything out of my head.  

With Jake Whetter during production week August 2011
One of the days, we had a bunch of different, interview footage and Jake was the host of the show.  I really enjoyed getting to know Jake.  He is a great guy and I think he saw how hard I worked and he appreciated it.  He even tweeted me a few times saying, "Hey Zack, I just got done running and singing, off key of course"  It just amazed me, how only a few short years ago, I was listening to Radio Disney and today..... here I am being interviewed by Jake!  Put it this way, I had a lot of pinch me moments.

With my buddy Hollywood Dan being shuttled to the D23 Concert August 2011
Production Week ended with a Performance at The D-23 Expo!  It is The Disney Fan Club Convention at the Anaheim Convention Center.  It was really awesome to hang out in the green room and meet a lot of Disney Celebrities and also get to Hang out with the other NBT Artists.  My favorite part was performing and seeing the guys from Hollywood Ending in the crowd Jumping up and down to my songs and cheering me on!  They became like my older brothers!

With Brenda Song in The Green Room at The D23 Convention August 2011
Production week was so much fun, exciting and crazy busy!  The production schedule had someone   busy every minute of the day.  But, it was one of the funnest times of my life. I also got a chance to get to know Kelly Edwards and I really have to say she is awesome and really cares about ALL the NBT Artists.  She looked out for all of us and if something wasn't right, she always made sure that we were seen in the best of light.  I appreciated that so much and it meant a lot to me!  Kelly will always have a special place in my heart for believing in me and encouraging me throughout the whole NBT Process!

Me and Kelly Edwards during production week.   August 2011
One of the funnest things about production week was we all hung out one night.  All 5 NBT Artists and we did a cover of Bruno Mars, "The Lazy Song"  I didn't know the lyrics and I was so hoarse from my throat hurting me, so when you see the video you will see me looking at my phone. I was reading the lyrics.  It was really one of the best times in my life and I am really grateful for the experience.

Me and my Buddy Emanuel!  He has been at every performance in LA. 
As August wrapped up, I was getting excited about playing some live concerts!  After all, that is where I feel like I am at home.  Being on the stage, in front of a crowd is the most amazing feeling to me.  It was exciting to get my own merchandise and see people wanting autographs after the shows wearing my t-shirts.  

My Friend Alberto, Jr.  playing guitar for me.  He is the brother of Boyz Crew Member Alex!  Sept 2011 Good Times!
The first stop was The LA County Fair and I played with Tay Barton, Ladina Spence and Shane Harper!  It was also the week after the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.  So, I dedicated my show to the Fallen Heroes of 9-11 wearing a Red FDNY Shirt for my show with matching Red Sneakers!  I had a great time at the show, but I still was not 100% Happy with my performances.  It was the first time performing "When it Rains in LA" and "Feelin' Like Michael" Live.

Performing at The Taste of St. Louis Festival in St. Louis, MO.  Sept 2011
The following week was the first time playing out of state.  My Dad and I traveled to St. Louis to play at the Taste of St. Louis Festival.  It was really exciting for me to go out of state.  It also turned into a new fun thing for me and my Dad.  What made performing out of state different, especially playing in Central time, it was two hours ahead of my natural time clock.  So, when I had to get up at 7am it was really like 5am to me.  It was a new experience in adapting to different time zones and preparing properly for a show.

Chillin in my Hotel Room watching a movie in St. Louis!
It was great to land in the airport and be picked up by Brad Watts in The Phineas & Ferb Mobile!  My theme for the week was to wear my Gold and Blue color scheme to show support for the St. Louis Rams football team. So Brad was nice enough to take us to the mall and get a Rams Hat!  This also became part of my routine with every show I play!  I have a hat from every place that I perform at.  I have all the hats now hung in my room with a photo from the show. It is great to look at and remember my performances by.

Getting ready to Sing "Serious"  On The Sat Morning News in St. Louis on Fox 2

After I arrived at the Hotel, we got to relax a little bit, before we went to Dinner.  I had dinner at JBucks in St. Louis and they had awesome cheeseburgers!  I then went back to my room, watched a movie and went to bed.  I think my dad stayed up half the night to organize all of my clothes for the next day.  Instead of being able to sleep in, we had to go to the Local Fox 2 Station to be on The Saturday Morning News!  My first time on TV in a news station performing my song "Serious"  When we got there, they told us that they could not play the music to my song for some reason.  It would not work in their CD Player.  So instead of not singing at all I decided to sing "Serious"  Acapella and you can watch the TV footage right here. :-)  The Interviewer Liked my Rams Hat!  :-)

This little girl cut herself during a cooking event.  She is awesome though! :-)
After the TV interview, I was able to go back to The Hotel and take a quick nap before we had to go to the Taste of St. Louis Festival.  I really Enjoyed the show and the meet & greets.  I also got a chance to cheer up a little girl who had cut herself during one of the cooking events she was taking part in. 

With The St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders!  And Mascot!  Sept. 2011
I also just had to get a photo with The Rams Cheerleaders!  How could I even resist!   Then sadly enough my time was up in St. Louis and was waiting for our flight to leave at the airport with a few hours to spare.  So, we had some dinner before I headed out to NY to Celebrate my 14th Birthday. 

My Dad actually took this photo of me at the St. Louis Airport while waiting for Dinner.  Cool huh?

I had a great time in NY City for my Birthday!  I stayed at The Double Tree Suites Hotel in Times Square.  I got to see my brother Billy and My Cousins when I was there.  We went to Ground Zero and then we had dinner at Mickey Mantles, my favorite place to eat in NY. 
Birthday Dinner was at Mickey Mantles!  I love this place!
In the 9-11 Memorial Store Near Ground Zero, always makes me sad.
But, My Cousin Matthew always makes me feel better!
I am Jammin' in NYC Hanging from the rafters, lol

Hanging out in NYC..... Celebrating my 14th Birthday.
After two days in NYC, it was back home to Celebrate my 14th Birthday!  But, I also had to take a photo in front of Madison Square Garden to remind myself of my goal to perform there one day!

One Day I will be performing here! Madison Square Garden, NYC
Now it was on to October, and things really started to heat up in HOTLANTA! :-)  I had one more show before NBT 2011 Kicked off in Hollywood & Highland.  This was my warm up to work out all the kinks before the biggest show of my life.  So, I was really excited to go to Atlanta!  

My Grandma and Cousin Shane at The Atlanta Show.  October 2011
Getting there was a little hectic.  We almost got hit by another plane taking off and the Pilot Jammed on the brakes.  We had to go back to the gate and were delayed for 2 hours.  Luckily, I happened to be sitting next to a Pastor, LOL.   We were picked up in a Limo and driven to a really awesome resort on a lake!  My Cousin Shane who I had not seen for 4 years came to see me along with my Grandmother.

Performing "Feelin' like Michael" At The Mall of Georgia  Oct. 2011
It was special for me, because I lost my grandfather two years ago and he never got to see me perform.  Being that my Grandma was there, she was able to see me perform and it was a special day. Something took over me that day and everything just seemed to click.  I had a great performance at The Mall of Georgia, but what made me excited was that I had fans come from South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee to come see me perform!  That was exciting.

Performing "When it Rains in L.A." at The Mall of Georgia 2011
I was also really excited with the crowd and the connection I had with them.  "When it Rains in L.A." and "Feelin' Like Michael" were really big hits with the crowd and it was such a great feeling.  I really had such an awesome time in Atlanta and the Staff at Radio Disney was awesome!  After the show we were in the green room eating and hanging out telling jokes for over an hour.  No one wanted to leave. LOL

Connecting with the audience at The Mall of Georgia. October 2011
Up Next was Hollywood & Highland!  The first time all 5 Artists would be on Stage together opening for All-Star Weekend, with 4,000 in attendance along with Disney VIP's, Execs and Celebrities....The Pressure was on and I was up for the challenge.  I have always been a gamer.  The more pressure, the better I perform.  Just how I am.  I always feel like I have something to prove.  My adrenaline takes over and sometimes I do not remember half of what I did on stage until I look back on the playback.

The Radio Disney Season 4 NBT Billboard at Hollywood and Highland! Why does my head look so big? LOL
This was it, the Show of shows!  The last show before voting for Season 4 NBT Started.  I rehearsed like a maniac that week.  I had my choreographer Richard Jackson and my vocal Coach Jarah Gibson and my dad at rehearsal every night at SIR, kicking my butt.  I felt like I was in boot camp in the Army!  I had Richard yelling at me to Dance for my life, I had Jarah running my butt off and singing and had my dad picking apart every little detail, down to my shoe laces.  It was an intense week.

Performing at Hollywood & Highland  NBT Showcase Concert singing "Serious"
It also brought on another change for me.  Up until that point, I wore a denim vest over a colored shirt with matching sneakers and baseball cap.  I wanted to do something different.  So, after some thought.... I decided to dedicate my show to Breast Cancer Awareness.  I went a little retro Miami Vice colors.  I had Baby Blue Adidas Sneakers, my jeans, and a pink shirt, with a white collared shit over the top with a pink ribbon.  I wore, Breast Cancer Bracelets and a custom made black and blue baseball cap with the pink ribbon embroidered on it.

Me and Courtney!  She is from Texas and was glad she got to see the show with her family.

BackStage at The VIP Party
It was also a very nerve wracking event for me leading up to the show.  There was a VIP meet and greet and I have to admit.... I had never been as nervous before a show as I was this one.  I drove my Dad crazy, he kept looking for me and I kept disappearing.  I wanted to be a lone.  I was wound up like a top and I am so glad I went on first, cause I did not want to wait, I wanted to hit that stage really bad.  LOL  Before the show began I got to meet a girl who has turned out to be special to me!  Her name is Courtney Canfield from Texas! She has had countless amounts of surgeries, yet she manages to stay strong and has such a wonderful attitude.  It was such a pleasure to meet her and her family.

Hanging with All Star Weekend at The VIP NBT Party at The Rolling Stone

Me and The Hottest DJ on The Planet!  Candice!  Oct 2011!  She is great!

I also had the pleasure to meet, Disney Stars from Kickin it and also spent some time with the Guys from All-Star weekend and The Hottest DJ on the Planet, Candice!  (I totally love Candice... she is very sweet and super awesome to me.)  And then..... it was showtime!

The Best Show of my life!  Hollywood & Highland!  I'll never forget this day!

I was in the green room, just finishing up warming up and praying with my Dad and was walking to the elevator.  We were in the basement of Hollywood & Highland underneath The Rolling Stone.  I could hear the crowd going crazy and I had goosebumps.  I couldn't wait to hit the stage.  Finally, Jake Whetter announced me and my intro music started and I hit the stage like a rocket ship!

Interesting enough, I messed up my set list.  However, Only my Dad and I knew. Thank God he runs my music, because if he didn't who knows what would have happened.  LOL  My Set list was supposed to look like this.  #1. Serious, #2. Shorty's with me #3. Please Don't go girl #4. When it Rains in L.A. #5. I'll be there in English/Spanish #6. Feelin' Like Michael.   Well, I did "I'll be there" third and forgot I was supposed to do "Please don't go girl"   What was crazy is that "I'll be there was supposed to be the intro to "Feelin' Like Michael"  As fate would have it, the way I introduced, "Feelin' like Michael" was completely ad libbed and turned out better, then anything I could have rehearsed.  The Camera's caught me coming off stage saying, "That was awesome"  And it was!

I was so happy when I got off the stage.  My Dad came over to me and gave me a big bear hug and said, "I am so proud of you!  That was the most amazing thing I ever saw"

It was a day where magic happened and dreams came true.  it was a day that will live in my heart forever!  But, what also happened that day was new friendships started to form.  I did a set of pictures with Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman..... the next thing I know I was talking to Zendaya's dad and dancing to Hollywood Ending with Bella!   It was really the best day of my life. 

I know I had so many compliments that day from so many people.  It was a load off of my shoulders, because it was important that the people who believed in me..... the people who have worked with me were proud of me.  I also had no idea how this voting thing would shake out, but all I knew at the time, was I gave it all I had and I was proud to be able to be part of such a special day.  With 4,000 people in attendance, it was an amazing meet and greet!  I not only had a blast with my fellow NBT Artists, but the fans as well.  Like I said, it will be a day I never forget.  

My Introduction Clip Which played on Disney Channel
Voting Started the following day..... and I will be honest.  I did not like it.  I felt like I was a politician campaigning for votes.  It put a strain on me, because it is not my personality.  I also really formed some great relationships with Ladina, Tay and Hollywood Ending and to be campaigning for votes was something I never felt comfortable with.  And waiting for that phone call on elimination day was the worst.  I can not explain how my nerves felt, but it wasn't good.  And even though I was really happy..... I also felt incredibly bad for my friends that were eliminated.  Can I tell you something?  Candidly?  There is no one in NBT better then anyone else.  Ladina is incredible..... she honestly blows me a way with her voice.  All of us are so different in our styles of music that it is hard to pick and any one of us could have won and would have deserved to win.  I think Radio Disney did an amazing job at picking out 5 totally different artists.

Ladina Spence, Me and Tay Barton The West Coast Crew at City Walk in L.A.

You have no idea about the things we laugh at?  I was just telling Ladina she had holes in her shirt :-)

At Tay's Sweet 16 Party!  What a great night!  We are just too cool!

The rest of October was a lot of fun too!  Ladina, Tay and myself spent the day at Universal City Walk together and we also went to Tay's surprise Sweet 16 Birthday Party!  It was really an amazing month!

My Artwork for "Serious" Available on iTunes!
November was here before I knew it and I was blown away by the amount of support, I was getting.  My twitter and facebook accounts were growing really fast.  Ever since my show in Hollywood & Highland and the airing of NBT on Disney Channel.... I was getting so much support, and it was really very exciting.  My songs "Serious" and "Shorty's with me" Was not only being played regularly on Disney Channel, but it was also available on iTunes.

Brad Watts sent me this photo.  The Girl Found out I drove in this Van so she wanted to take a pic in front of it. :-)
I was hitting my tweet limit several times a day.  I was trying to answer everyone I could.  I would do a Q&A once a night on both Twitter and Facebook.  Each day I would set out some sort of  theme and by the end of the day all of The Zack Attacks would surprise me with all kinds of stuff.  And I would then pick 5 people and call them.  I was so surprised about how much my phone calls meant to people.  People would tell me not to make fan calls.  But, I did anyway..... because what it meant to people was incredible.  People would cry or people would say how it changed their life.  I do not know how as I am just me.  I am just a person, like anyone else..... except I sing, dance and act for my career.  But, I was also willing to accept the compliments and if I could make a difference in someones life by a phone call, then I know that is what God wanted me to do.

My Street Team Posted these flyers all over the country!  So Proud of the Zack Attacks for working so hard.
Voting was also in full tilt and it was kind of crazy.  The Zack Attacks took full force and started posting flyers across the country.   The Zack Montana Street Team was born and fans from all over were doing videos of how they were supporting me.  It was very humbling!  I was really touched by what people were doing to get me through the next round of votes.  People were passing out flyers at homes, local businesses and schools.  All I can say was I felt very special.

I was continuing to work hard and I was preparing for my show in San Francisco, CA.  My rehearsals were getting to a point where I was feeling new things and the more I performed the more comfortable I felt.  I included some rehearsal videos for you to view :-)

Performing in San Francisco November 2011
San Francisco was awesome!  For every show I do, I try to come up with a theme... and this was perfect.  I performed in a throwback Joe Montana Football Jersey and had a 49er Hat on to perform with.  And of course my Trademark Red Sneakers. People ask me all the time if I am going to come out with my own cologne and perfume line.  Heck no!  LOL  I am going to come out with my own sneaker line.  That's my thing!  

The Best Feeling in The World when I connect with my fans!  :-) San Francisco Nov. 2011

My highlight of the show was singing to a girl in the crowd during, "When it Rains in L.A."  I look at these pictures and it makes me even happier, because when you see peoples faces light up, to me that is what it is all about.  I love to see people happy!  So moments like this are special to me!

Me and NBT Season 3 Alumni Amber Lily!  She has such an incredible voice!  November 2011
San Francisco was also a great time, because I got to meet and spend time with other NBT Alumni, Kickin Daisies and Amber Lily, who I have become very good friends with! I also had my cousins that I never met come visit me and see my show.  It was really great to meet my cousin Emily.  I had a wonderful time with all the fans at the meet and greet as well.

NBT Family with Kelly Edwards  San Francisco November 2011

Me and my Cousins from Northern California!  I never met them before!  So it was awesome to spend time with them.
The one thing that I was not thrilled with in San Francisco was my performance.  My last show was Hollywood & Highland which was huge and I was expecting the same kind of performance this time, even though I had been working just as hard.  It was the first time when I could not work around the elements.  I had no room on the stage to dance.  There were wires all over the place.  I spent half my performance in the pit (The area between the stage and the fans) trying to put on a show.  It was kinda cool cause I was able to jump off the stage a few times.  But, at one point I almost fell getting tangled up  in wires that were on the stage.  I played it off the best I could... and I just learned a big lesson that day....  that I am never going to go on a stage again that does not have a certain amount of clean space for me to move around in.  We spend a lot of money working with a choreographer and rehearsal space and to take away space to move around in, is like taking away one of my instruments.  But, it was all good.... it was just a learning experience for me, and everything you do in life you should learn something from.

Pulling up to Alcatraz Island! November 2011
The following day I was able to go to Alcatraz and site see a little bit.  I really had a great time doing that.  It was so much fun and I would love to go back to San Francisco again one day.

Me & Bella at the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles doing a meet & greet! November 2011
I also survived another round of voting and I was grateful to be part of the final 3.  The competition was tough, Hollywood Ending had been touring for a couple of months at this point and I thought for sure they were going to win NBT.  They were my brothers, so it was cool if they did.  As I said all along, we are all different artists, but I feel all of us are talented and have big careers ahead of us.  But, the pressure was mounting and it was getting more intense with each round that passed. I was scheduled to do a meet & greet with Bella at The Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles.  I was excited to do the meet & greet cause I always love interacting with fans.  But, I was also excited to be hanging out with Bella.  Bella has become a really good friend.... she has been so supportive of me and was not ashamed to go out and tweet for me several times.  It will always mean so much to me, for the nice things she did for me.  She is a special person and she is very talented.  I love her song Bubblegum Boy with Pia Mia.

I also had a lot  my fans come out to see me and met a whole new group of fans and it was a really awesome day!  People were lined up around the outlet and they were there waiting in the rain.  I heard it was a two hour wait just to come see us for a couple of minutes.  It was amazing!

Video Chat time!  November 2011
November was also a month that I started to do live web chats on www.stickam.com (Stickam.com is the Official Web Cam Provider for Zack Montana)  I really enjoyed doing this.  I was feeling a little frustrated that I was not able to call more people.  And so many people were hoping to get a call from me.  So, I decided to start doing live video chats. It was very exciting!  The first video chat I had 2,000 people view it.  But, I am also proud to announce that I am #26 on Sickam for views for the month.  And at one point, we had 17,000 plus for one of my live chats.  That is a concert full of people in an arena.  When I think about it, I just go WOW!  LOL

Rehearsal for The Thanksgiving Day Parade - Philadelphia November 2011

When I see pics like this, I just love looking at faces of people.  I love what I do!  Philadelphia Nov. 2011
Probably one of my biggest highlights of 2011 was going to Philadelphia to take part in The ABC Dunkin Donuts 92nd Thanksgiving Day Parade.  To be invited to such an event was an honor.  I was treated like gold!  We were picked up at the hotel in a limo, taken to a first class hotel and then picked up in another limo for rehearsal on weds before Thanksgiving and then we were met by our own personal coordinator on Thanksgiving Morning.

Group Photo after Rehearsal!  Philadelphia Nov. 2011
I always take time for my fans!  November 2011 - Philadelphia
I got to spend some times taking photos with fans, and this is where I had one of my weirdest experiences to date.  I was taking pictures with the fans and some dude tried to stick his finger in my ear.  Kinda weird, but whatever. LOL

This lady wanted a photo for her daughter, who was not able to make it. Nov. 2011 - Philadelphia, PA

I have fans of all ages and it makes me feel great!  Nov. 2011 - Philadelphia, PA

Lot's of Pictures! :-)  Nov. 2011 Philadelphia, PA

I had a chance to see the Rocky Statue and to walk around and get to see Philadelphia and enjoy some Philly Cheesesteaks when I was there.  I was really enjoying Philadelphia and very excited to perform on Thanksgiving Day. :-)

But, before I did, I had a chance to walk around and see people who are less fortunate then me and went through tent city.  It breaks my heart to see people living like that.  It makes me appreciate my life even more.  I can't say it enough how grateful I am.  I hope one day I am in a position to help people less fortunate.

Well, I never expected for Thanksgiving to be such an amazing experience as it was.  As I went along the parade route, I could not believe how many people knew who I was and not only that, people who had drawn posters for me.  I was so pumped up by the time I hit the stage, I was about to explode.

During The Parade Route for the 92nd ABC Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011 Philadelphia, PA

My Fans along the Parade Route! Yes I waved back :-)

I will never forget Cami, who took the time to draw this.  It hangs in my room now! :-)

I really can't begin to say how much it meant to me being on The Radio Disney/Hess Float.  To see so many people who knew me was really crazy and exciting.  But, the best was yet to come.  I had to do a two minute version of my song "Serious"  Which meant I had to cut out the second verse and part of the ending.  But, there was no way I was cutting out the Dance break.  So, when I got to that little Red Round Stage they had me on, I was prepared to do as many of my dance moves as I could and if I fell off the stage, "Oh Well" I was going for it!  And with all the people around me, I figured someone would help me back up!  The fans and the posters behind me performing, was awesome and it really pumped me up.  Oh and I almost forgot!  My wardrobe was a little bit of a challenge!  Because I wanted to keep true to my style, but I also wanted to be respectful, being it was a Holiday!  I still bought the Eagles Baseball Cap, but I did not wear it.  I stuck to a nice Green Holiday Sweater Vest with white shirt underneath, and added the long Red Scarf and Red Shoes to keep my swag on! :-)  I actually had a discussion with my dad over the scarf, but.... in the end he was right and I wore the scarf and now I am glad I did. I even had a few articles written about my shoes and scarf! LOL

Getting on Stage to Perform, "Serious" Live on ABC TV  Thanksgiving Day 2011 Philadephia, PA

Once again, this was such a great day, but at the end of the day, the fans is what makes a difference.  I never mind taking time for a fan.  I remember, wanting to get autographs or whatever, and I miss someone by seconds, because they are shuffled off.  I was starting to get shuffled off, but my dad who is a pretty big guy, saw a girl who was disappointed she got there too late.  So he told her to follow him and he called for me and she got a hug from me and a personal autograph as well.  It makes me feel good, knowing  that a small act of kindness means so much to others! :-)

Waving to my fans after performing!

I love taking pictures with people!

Signing and autograph!  :-)

Getting a big hug at the meet and greet after my performance! :-)

Meet and Greet Time!  I love making people happy!!!

I was glad I got to meet Cami after seeing her on the parade route!  Awesome person!

Kelly Raffaele of Radio Disney and Chris Prasol of ABC 6 in Philadelphia, Thanksgiving Day 2011.
All great things have to come to an end, and I was sad to leave Philadelphia, with all the new friends I made and the fantastic time I had!  Philadelphia definitely showed me some brotherly love!  If you missed any of it on TV, here is a link from youtube and also another link done by Don Sheppard of xopixo studios, the x's and o's of sports media.  :-)  I also want to give a huge Thanks to Kelly Raffaele Schempp who is the promotions manager of Radio Disney in Philadelphia for making sure my stay there was stress free!  Thanks for taking care of all the little details and making my Thanksgiving the best ever!  And to Chris Prasol from ABC  who picked me up at the hotel Thanksgiving Morning and followed me the whole day right until I got in the limo to go back to the airport!  Thanks for taking care of me and making everything run smoothly!  You are a really great person and I hope to see you again in the future!

The only thing that made me want to go back home to L.A.  was the Turkey Dinner waiting for me at The Bartons house!  :-)  What a great Thanksgiving!

I had such a great Thanksgiving that I forgot there was an elimination to worry about.  Would I be in the final 2?  I did not know, but I felt like I had a good chance based on the crazy awesome fan support I was getting.  I had about 1,500 to 2,000 posts a day on my facebook page alone.  I listened to Radio Disney like everyone else and I was really happy, but also sad to see my brothers, Hollywood Ending Eliminated.  It was time to get focused and get ready to perform at the finals and open for Cody SImpson.  Here just a few short months back, I was getting advice from Cody and now, I would be playing on the same night as him.  I was honored to have this opportunity.                                                              My Only Goal at this point was to go out and kill it performance wise to show everyone what I got, win or lose.  So, I worked every day and every night to put it all together. I honestly, never worked as hard as I did getting ready for the Americana at Grand.  I am a firm believer that I can only control what I can control.  And what I would control was how I performed.  So that is what I did.
It was my idea to start singing "Serious" from behind the stage.  It was also, my idea to bring a fan up during , "When it Rains in L.A."  I do not care who brings people on stage or not. I do it cause I want to do it..... I give out Roses to that song at every performance and I wanted this to be special.  Being that I have such a special connection with my fans it is something I wanted to do.  When it came to "Feelin' Like Michael"  It was my idea to put the Michael Jackson Snipits to introduce the song, while I put my MJ Jacket and Glove on.  But, that is the kind of growth that I have had as an artist since NBT started.  It was also special to me when my producer/rapper Jordan Omley joined me on stage for the song, "Shorty's with me"  I love to perform and when Jordan comes on stage it is just fun and makes the song that much better to perform live!  I know you guys like it, cause I see how you all react to it.  So, don't think I don't notice cause I do.  I see you out there!  I see your eyes light up! I see the excitement on your faces.  That's why I love doing what I do.

But, before The Finale Concert, my twitter and facebook was going crazy.  I was getting fan mail that I just could not believe.  I got all kinds of gifts, drawings, notes, poems and things that were just special in someone's culture that they wanted to share with me.  Everyday, things got more intense and I was getting more and more fan mail from around the world.  
But, honestly.... one of the most rewarding things I did that week was I surprised some fans at Local Schools in Los Angeles.  I went to one Elementary School and one Middle School.  I spoke about how important it is to do well in school and I also spoke about bullying.  I am against bullying and to me, it is all about someone who is not happy with themselves and they feel the only way to make them self feel better is to bring you down.  I would like to be part of a mission that helps eliminate bullying once and for all.  It can be done!                                                                                                                                             

I was also getting to a point, where I wanted the voting to be over.  It was getting to be too much.... as I said before... it is not me to campaign for votes. I am a performer, not a politician.  And I really didn't like it.  I saw people fighting, people getting nasty and it just wasn't cool.  So, when voting was over and I knew all I had to worry about was my show, then I was relieved.                         

I was excited when I went shopping for my outfit.  The one thing I had my eyes on for several months were Silver/Chrome Nike Jordans.  I call them my rocket man shoes.  I had gotten some really cool pants that shimmered and looked cool when they would change color when different light hit them.  But, getting the Armani Jacket was the best.  One of my trademarks has always been bright  colors!  So it was a little different for me this time. I like to keep people guessing as to what I will be wearing and this time was no different.  Especially, when 5 minutes before I was to go on stage my Dad was buying me a new shirt, cause the retro mickey mouse shirt I had on was not cleared to perform in. I guess that is the good thing about performing at a mall. 
We are all in Black!  How did that work out?  LOL Me, Cody and The Top Guns at Radio Disney :-)

Before I actually get into details about the finale concert.... there was a lot of press and a really awesome Red Carpet Event the night before at Universal City Walk  Buca di beppo for Pop Star Magazine.  It was so crazy I did something I thought I would never do!  LOL  We had to put our hands in spaghetti sauce to make a hand imprint on a canvas, then autograph it so it can be auctioned for charity.  LOL  My Hands smelled like Spaghetti Sauce for 2 days.  LOL                                                                          The event was really cool, I got to see my friends Bella Thorne and Pia,  Cody Simpson, Madison Pettis, Mindless Behavior, Little Romeo, Ariana Grande, Greyson Chance, Alli Simpson and Debby Ryan to name a few.  But, it was really exciting and great to hang out with everyone.
Not only did I get a chance to meet Mindless Behavior, but I was able to talk with their manager.  It was nice that he gave me a nice compliment and also had a chance to speak to Vincent Herbert from Streamline Records on the phone and I was glad to talk to him.
After picking up my dad from the airport, I went home and slept and had a good night sleep even though it was hard to fall asleep.  I really didn't think too much about winning or not winning, because I already felt like a winner just getting in NBT.  I also never want to diminish anyone else who was eliminated before me and their abilities.  I will say it again, I really don't think any of the 5 artists were any less talented then anyone else.  We all are different in our styles, but I also feel that all of us will have bright futures.                                                                                                                 The only thing, I would have wanted was to go home and play in Florida, my home state.....  I left Tampa, FL 4 years ago to pursue a dream and it would have been nice to go back, to show people dreams do come true.  However, I will have my day in Florida... I will have my day at The Staples Center and Madison Square Garden.  I am not worried about that.  I really think I showed people what hard work and passion can do.  I just know I am going to work really hard  in 2012 to put out the best music that I can.  I am in the process now of writing and picking some producers to work with.  I am excited.
I put on a great performance at The Finale Concert and I have nothing to be ashamed of.  I never look back, I always move forward.  The train has to keep moving, and you are either on it, or you are getting off, but it is always moving forward and that is how I approach my career, I leave nothing on the table and I give it all I have!                                              After the show was over, I sat in the green room with my dad.  I reflected on the first concert I played at the Americana in July, I thought about how much I have grown.  Not only did I grow as an artist, I grew physically.  My voice was changing over the course of the competition, I was running and singing everyday... I started working out and getting buff, haha!  A lot of things happened over a short period of time.  I sat and I just reflected.... I took a deep breath and realized it was all good!                                                                                            To top my night off, I saw one of my favorite people before I left!  I got a big hug from Candice and she told me she was not worried about me and I would be going places!  What a nice way to end the night.  :-)  I have a lot of respect for everyone at Radio Disney and everyone who worked with me over the last 6 months and was sad to see it all over.

I did not have much down time, as right away I started working on a song called, "My Wish for Christmas"  It was something I wanted to do, because I hadn't been in the studio since June and I was dying to make some new music.  I also wanted to do this song, because it is my heart, it has meaning and it is touching.  It was also co written by my Friend Jen who I met a few years back and was the one who worked with me on my solo Demo last year.  We kinda shared this dream together, as she knew what my dreams have been.  She spent countless hours working with me for free, just because she cared.  And those are the kind of people that God has put into my life.
After recording my vocals in L.A.  the song was mixed in Miami, FL and I got the finish version on Christmas Eve.  I recorded the Video of "My Wish for Christmas" and I wanted it to feel like a home movie.  I did not want it to be overly produced, I wanted it to be real and I think I accomplished that.  I love the song and I hope you go download it on iTunes.  It may not be Christmas anymore, but it has a good message and it is a special song.  My First song Post NBT!

As of today, my song "Serious"  is still being played on Radio Disney.  I am still getting lots of fan mail everyday and I truly feel that I have the best fans ever!  The Zack Attacks took on a life of their own.  The street team has been amazing, by keeping everything rolling along!  I really love all you guys for your hard work.  I appeared in Amber Lily's new video coming out soon and it is going to be awesome!  But, I want to end my year in review with the cutest video I ever saw.  This little girl is amazing and to be honest, I am just really touched.... I watched this video, I laughed and then I was choked up, thinking about all the wonderful blessings I had in 2011.  It was a year that dreams came true.

In 2012, who knows what will happen, but if it is anything like 2011, it is going to be great and I hope that you will all be reading "2012 My Year in Review"  I closing I would like to thank some people who got me to where I am right now.  People who were important to me.  First I have to Thank God!  He is the reason!  My Parents for sacrificing so much and always believing and encouraging me.  My Agent Karim from The Polygon Group.... My Producers, Jordan Omley and Mike Mani of The Jam Music.... thanks for making the great music for me!  My Choreographer Richard Jackson...Thanks Rich for always bring out the best in me.  To my vocal Coach Jarah Gibson....... diaphragmatic breathing!!!!!  I got it Jarah, I got it!  LOL  Jonathan George, Jackie Priel, Jami Templeton (You guys were there from the beginning and the first to believe in me!)  Singer Jen...... last year we shared a dream, it is coming true!  Thanks for loving me!  Phoenix Stone and Sybil Hall..... thanks for everything and showing me how to prepare and rehearse.  Hope to work with you both again someday.  To all my past band mates.....the Members from Boyz Crew and East West Boys!
I would like to Thank everyone at Disney, DIsney Channel, Radio Disney..... especially Kelly Edwards... you believed in me and cared about me... Thanks so much!  Your incredible assistants Amy Teng & Kirstin Yuda. All the Radio Disney Affiliates in St. Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco and Philadelphia.  Thanks for making me feel at home in your cities! :-)  To Ernie D, Jake Whetter ( Thanks for being a great person and someone who is just a really good person.  Thanks for always making me feel like a million bucks!)  And Of course the Hottest DJ on The Planet (I want Royalties and credit if this becomes a national nickname for you :-)  Candice!  You rock!  You always were so cool.... I'll never forget the first day I met you and hung out in the studio while I took calls!  Texas Forever!  I also want to say Thank you to Steven Vincent for taking the general meeting back in April and giving me the Autographed photo of Zendaya! :-)
To my Brother Billy, my sister Amber, my cousins Paige and Shane, and all the rest of my family.... I love all of you.

My NBT Family, Ladina Spence, Tay Barton, Hollywood Ending, Shealeigh, and Amber Lily.  So great getting to know all of you!
To my new friends at Disney who have supported me so much over the last few months, Bella Thorne, Zendaya Coleman, The McClain Sisters, Alli and Cody Simpson, Olivia Holt, Adam Irigoyen, Stefanie Scott and Jake Short!  Thanks for rocking out with me this year!
Last but, not least all my Zack Attacks and Zack Montana Street Team Leaders, especially Tracey Ecklund for putting in all your hard work to get The Street Teams organized.  And to Stickam.com for being the best Video Chat Company out there.
Thanks so much for a great year!

Zack Montana


  1. I could not be more proud of you Zack! I know how hard you have worked this year and you deserve all good things!!! I also know Grandpa is watching you and smiling from ear to ear!!!
    I love you !!!

  2. Hey..your still perofming over the wolrd??..right..

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  4. Awesome! totally inspired thanks so much keep up the good work you have inspired me to keep singing