THE “SWEETIE PIE” HERSELF

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Media

Backup vocalist Robin Montgomery born to Ora Gray and James Montgomery was born to Ora Gray on June 16, 1940 in Columbus, Mississippi.  True Light Baptist Church his were she grew up and mastered her talent from her mama who taught her piano lessons. She attended Curtis Elementary and Pruitt High School where they formed the Rythmettes. She graduated and started her career at 16 with the Chordettes. The Chordettes later changed their name to the Ardettes in 1954 when she met Art Lasstiter who became the father of her first child, Andre Montgomery. Robbie started singing backup with Ike and Tina as the Ikettes in 1959 where they  practiced in a Technosonic studio in Brentwood, pulling out their hit single “Fool In Love.” Her seven year reign ended when she started singing backup for the British Invasion in 1968. Two years later in 1971 she hooked up with Earl Hooker known for his slide guitar player and then she migrated to New Orleans to backup for Dr. John’s Night Trippers until he birth of her second son James Timothy Norman. Dr. John, became New Orleans ambassador during the raft of Hurricane Katrina. Famous for his theatrical stage shows and voodoo ceremonies. Robbie recorded three albums performing a number one hit : Right Time/Wrong Place demonstrating her talent at Mardi Gras and Jass & Heritage Festivals. After that she started singing commercial jingles and formed her own bands called Robbie Special Kinds & Robbie’s Dangerous Curves.

The Ikettes

One year later Robbie was diagnosis with pneumothorax, which narrows the lung and is a conjecture with the FLCN gene which endoces a protein names Follucin. That’s when she realized she had to stop singing. When Robbie came back to St. Louis she was in desperate need of income so she started working in a Jewish Hospital as a dialysis technician for ten years and that when she met Leon Strauss. During that time Robbie built a personal relationship with Mr. Strauss and they considered her as a member of their family. Mrs. Strauss opened a Bistro on Grand Ave. and it didn’t do very well. I told them I wanted to do something different, she stated to editor Jeanette Cooperman of stlmag.com She told Mrs. Strauss I’d work,buy a table, work and buy a chair. She also stated she rented an old Haitian bakery and it was a dump and 50,000 later we still couldn’t open the establishment. so Mr. Strauss told the people who owned the building not to put me out because he was behind me. I opened up maybe a week or two before he died and I took him pictures. Jeannete asked her one last question…… What made Mr. Strauss so generous, she stated: When he renovated Fox Theatre they told him white people wouldn’t come back but they did and he told me, If this is your dream then pursue it.”

In 1985, Robbie was appointed St. Louis Goodwill Musical ambassador and recently received the Missouri Historical Society for her contributions to American Rhythm and Blues Music. She frequently performs at Broadway Oyster Bar and the Venice Cafe also working an a new CD.

As a background vocalist she has recorded with BB King, The Surpremes, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Patti Labelle, Nancy Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Jerry Butler, Jose’ Feliciano, O Jays, Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart.

In 1994 at the age of 36 her eldest son Andre died and she opened her family business in 1996, where she started exploring her family’s recipe. From cooking out of an electric frying pan in their hotels to selling meals out of the truck of their car, Robin Montgomery finally explored her dream. Currently Ms. Robbie, Mr. Tim, Lady Janae, and Lil Charles are living it up in the life in the south at St. Louis’s popular soul food restaurant “Sweetie Pies at the Mangroves” specializing in fried chicken swirles, baked turkey legs, okra corn and tomatoes, crazy corn, famous mac n cheese, smothered pork steaks, meatloaf and greens. Deeeeelicious!

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