Echo Montgomery Garrett A Resounding Echo: From House of Gold to Orange Duffel Bag

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Submitted by Don Graham

Cover Photo Credit: Kevin Garrett

Echo Montgomery Garrett, daughter of Nashville legend Bob Montgomery and former Elvis  studio background singer Carol Montgomery was given a name that would ensure that her life and career would be anything but mundane and boring. We caught up with Echo at her home in Marietta  Georgia and her combined Texas, Tennessee and Georgia accents are  as charming as her name. “ My dad , as most people know, had a duo with Buddy Holly as a teenager and Buddy had a girlfriend named Echo Maguire, so when I was born I was either going to named Echo or Holly. I’m happy with the choice they made of Echo.”  The road that led Echo to Georgia and her current productive, happy life with husband Kevin and sons Caleb and Connor is decorated with adventure, dedication and love.“   Growing up in Madison, Tennessee we lived next door to Patsy Cline and her and husband Charlie Dick. they would visit and I would play with their daughter, Julie. My memories of Patsy are like a fairytale in that I thought she looked like Snow White, with the dark hair, pale skin and that slash of red lipstick. Those were great times. When Dad went from being a T.V. repairman to A&R man, producer and publisher opening  House of Gold Music  he would bring home what he was working on and play it for me. It was usually quite late but I was a night owl and was most often awake. Eventually I wound up working for Dad at House of Gold along with my husband. Interesting fact is my husband Kevin turned down a good job to work for less money at House of Gold because of his love of music. Dad would have bags of tapes for us to listen to and we get to preview them for him. Dad insisted that every tape was listened to. There was a time once when a bag got shoved in a corner and forgotten about. Dad was so upset saying that every tape had somebody's dreams on it. So I learned a lot about the value to be placed on creative works.”

Eventually the Garretts  moved to New York City when Kevin Garrett was offered a modeling position at a top agency in The Big Apple.. Echo got a job writing for McCall’s magazine, a top flight women’s publication. “ Dad taught me you could make a living out of  words and I have done that ever since.”

Kevin Garrett, Echo Montgomery Garrett, Dot Hindman and Bob Montgomery celebrating House of Gold Music having more #1 hits than any other music publisher in NashvilleKevin Garrett, Echo Montgomery Garrett, Dot Hindman and Bob Montgomery celebrating House of Gold Music having more #1 hits than any other music publisher in Nashville

The couple spent 10 years in New York, where both their sons were born and eventually moved back south choosing between moving back to Nashville or Georgia. “ My husband Kevin is from Georgia so we settled in Marietta, not far from Atlanta. “ Together they pursue their respective careers: Echo as a journalist and  Kevin as a photographer. In  2010 she got involved in helping kids who age out of foster care. “ It’s really a huge national problem. These kids age out of foster care and have nowhere to go. Society is not kind to them and look upon them as troubled kids with no future. I came across a successful executive named Sam Bracken who had been homeless as a teen  When he got a scolarship to Georgia Tech everything he owned fit into an orange duffel bag. I wrote his story My Orange Duffel Bag that we originally self published and printed only 12,000 copies of and it sold out. Then Random House aquired the publishing rights and sold 65,000 copies. Sam and i started The Orange Duffel Bag Initiative, www.theODBI.org,  to do life plan coaching with kids aging out of foster care and homeless youth. I had a lot of help from Mike Daly and Diana Black who run the non-profit. My brother Kevin Montgomery,an excellent singer/songwriter  did 2 of his 4  50 States in 50 days tours to raise awareness for our cause. My husband Kevin contributed 60 original images to My Orange Duffel Bag, which won two international awards for Best Book Design out of 4,000 entries from 14 countries. Kevin was notified this month that his work won two major awards in the international Hermes Creative Awards. The print ad campaign (7 ads), he shot for the City of Sandy Springs took the Platinum over all other tourism campaigns entered in the international competition, and this shot from that campaign won the Gold for Best Print Ad. To order My Orange Duffel Bag email Sam Bracken at sbracken@mac.com.

So far I’ve written or ghosted 13 books at this point, including several guidebooks to the Caribbean that my husband Kevin and I did together. I’ve written: My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change, Why Don’t They Just Get a Job? One Couple’s Mission to End Poverty in Their Community, Dream No Little Dreams, Career Mapping, among others. Right now I’m working on four new non-fiction books. “

Bob Montgomery was a humble guy and Echo is cut from the same cloth but here is a list of some of her accomplishments.

Echo Montgomery GarrettEcho Montgomery Garrett2015 Winner of North American Travel Journalists Association Gold for Print-Lifestyle
2014 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Article Award, First Place-Lifestyle 
2013 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Article Award, First Place- First-Person
2013 American Society of Journalists and Authors Arlene Eisenberg Award for Writing that Makes a Difference for “My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change” (awarded every three years)
2013 Georgia Author of the Year from Georgia chapter of National League of American Pen Women
Author of 12 books including "My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change," winner of 8 national awards and 2 international awards 
Member of American Society of Journalists and Authors/Authors Guild
More than 100 media outlets including: Delta Sky, Private Clubs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Business Week, Success, Inc., Virtuoso Life, New You, Atlanta Magazine.

So that is a short synopsis of Echo Montgomery Garrett's journey from House of Gold to Orange Duffel Bag but she’s far from done. “ I want to write a book about my dad and everything he did for and in Nashville. Dad actually planned his funeral, planning the music and who would perform , insisting on Joe  Diffie who he had championed and Dorothy Moore who made Dad’s song Misty Blue  a huge hit , Performed at his service. The programme read ' A Bob Montgomery Production.' When dad saw his plot would be next to Marty Robbins, who he produced he said ‘ Well I see you got me in a good neighbourhood.”

The next time  you see bluebirds think of Echo. To find out why you’ll have to read her book when it comes out.