Jonathan Michael has message for Montgomery in new album ‘The Discovery’

Reprinted from the Montgomery Advertiser, The Hornet Tribune

“Jonathan, my son, my baby boy, a kind and giving person. No one can match that smile and laughter. I’m so proud of you.”

Those special words are from “Birth,” the first track of Montgomery artist Jonathan Michael’s debut album, The Discovery. Words from his mom, Brenda, are joined by more messages from his dad, Glenn, sisters Shona and Melinda and brother Maurice.

Jonathan Michael, AKA Jonathan Avant, has a new album eitlted The Discovery (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser)

“I was trying to mimic everyone at the hospital when I was born,” Michael said.

Along with her voice, his mom let him use a photo of her on the 7-track album’s cover. She’s sitting in a hospital bed with Jonathan Michael as a newborn baby.

“She was totally fine with it,” he said.

The Discovery has been in the works since October 2021, and was released this year on Feb. 25. He described the music as soulful hip hop, with a jazz/funk undertone.

Michael said the other tracks — “Discovery,” “Process,” “Purpose,” “Everything,” “Together” and “In a Groove” — are about works being done in Montgomery.

“It’s a conversation starter,” Michael said of the album. “A lot of difficult conversations can be addressed from this album. A lot of difficult conversations that we have as a society.”

This album is coming from someone who knows a lot about Montgomery, especially downtown. The music artist is someone you’ve likely heard of under another name, Jonathan Avant — president of DBA Montgomery (Downtown Business Association), an accountant with Aldridge, Borden & Co., and an advocate for education. In 2022, he was named the Montgomery Advertiser’s Community Hero for October.

“No matter who you are, this world can’t be a world for our kids unless you walk in the entirety of yourself,” said the father of two young girls — Jazz Marie and Juliana Symone — who he’s described as being his real legacy in Montgomery. “That newness that the entire world is looking for is usually staring right back at you in the mirror.”

Releasing the album under his middle name, Michael, is about getting people to know him and his art more intimately, he said.

“It’s what we’re doing here, and how we’re approaching each other here,” Michael said. “I want the album to be a message from Montgomery to the world… Listen for words of encouragement on how to build your community, and how to love your community.”

His love of music stretches back to childhood in church and school.