Man of Montilla
Fernando J. Montilla was born in the Bronx, New York City during the spirit of the 50s and was destined to make an impact in Music. His successful legacy as a Global Talent Manager and Producer has been featured on NFL Halftime shows, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Las Vegas Casinos and in countries throughout South Africa and Europe. He’s worked alongside stars as KC and the Sunshine Band, Frank Sinatra Jr., Don Rickles, Kool and the Gang while honing his expertise in hospitality as Entertainment Director for the Fountainbleau Hilton for 30 years in Miami. While his roots at an early age where connected to Music, the path to his progress started early as he was exposed to the ‘Industry’ through Montilla Records, a notorious Spanish record label founded and managed by his Father.
The Early Years
Attending Pennsylvania Military College afforded Fernando a strict disciplinary methodology that carried him into success in his later years. He recounts how while he was studying Law at Interamerican University in Puerto Rico he was simultaneously leading the most booked band on the island. The runaway success of his band, Standing Ovation, led him to drop out of law school and travel internationally throughout Europe as the music groups leader and drummer.
“I remember carrying around our business contracts on the road with us in a file cabinet managed by my secretary.”
In 1975, as is the typical story, the band broke up leaving Montilla wondering what would be his next steps. He had developed such a large network of contacts in the US, Europe and Scandinavia that he launched his Talent Management company, FJM Productions, and became the go-to agent in Europe. Montilla capitalized on the Lounge & Casino market of the 1970s and managed and produced the top most successful resort and Casino Acts in the continent.
While the international live music market was growing, his hunger for more allowed him to simultaneously broker a deal at the Fountainbleau Hilton being the entertainment director for nearly 30 years from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. He booked globally recognized acts like Frank Sinatra Jr, The Temptations and many others that gave him the credibility to be the first-ever outside company hired by Disney to co-produce the 2000 NFL Halftime Show.
The magic touch that Fernando Montilla holds near and dear to his heart is an uncanny ability to spot talent before it breaks. Even at the height of his Talent Management career serving as an agent for Leonard Miller, pioneer of the lavish cruise line shows, gave him insight paired with his music industry ability to produce cruise entertainment in Scandinavia, South Africa, and Celebrity Cruise lines. The true show of his nuance skills though can be seen in his recommendations to the NFL to hire little known but emerging artists to perform at the halftime show. The artists’ names: Enrique Iglesias and Christina Aguilera. He was trusted by the Disney empire to work with the opening of their entertainment venue in Pleasure Island and brought in superior talent to perform at the Disney halftime show that included Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan, Miami Sound Machine, KC an the Sunshine Band, Arturo Sandoval and Tina Turner.
The Montilla Methodology
His eye for new and relevant talent has allowed him to retain his clients and relationship over the past 20 years. But the number one reason that he cites is his methodology.
“I’ve always been very strict with talent. I’ve told them what’s allowed, not allowed and to respect the client. By seeing how my father was always the middle man between the talent and the client allowed me to speak to the musicians in their own language allowing for seamless and inspiring relationships.”
These remnants of his military upbringing, the intrinsic ability to reinvent himself and the influence of the early days of his father’s Montilla Records has created a legacy today that can be heard booking talent in over 16 properties in South Florida including the Versace Mansion with over 100 performers in his roster. He still dabbles in the professional artist management side by representing Latin sensation Charlie Zaa, but what drives him today is ensuring that the art, music, and culture of South Florida is properly represented, nurtured and playing at the top hotel venues.