The country star, who's sold more than 10 million albums and scored 15 No. 1 singles -- including "I Swear" -- recently logged his first Top 30 hit in four years with "Forever." It hails from Montgomery's latest album, 2008's "Time Flies," his first in four years and his first for his own Stringtown Records, a move to have "a little bit more control over my career" after 22 years with major labels.
Montgomery notes that he's had to "fight to get a little bit of my space back" in the country music world after that fallow period. But he feels like he's landing some punches again.
"('Forever') helped knock down some barriers out there," notes Montgomery, 44, who's the younger brother of Montgomery Gentry's Eddie Montgomery. "It's definitely been more challenging because I hadn't been out in awhile. If you don't stay on the charts and consistent all the time, there's somebody who's gonna come in and take your place.
"So I have to show radio and everybody that I can still be relevant to the (country) format. I've got millions of fans out there; if they know I have stuff out there, they'll be there for me. You just have to make sure the songs are great and there are great people around you to promote 'em."
Montgomery's next challenge; to follow up "Forever" with another hit, although he notes that the control he has with Stringtown means he's not necessarily limited to just what's on "Time Flies."
"Right now it's just a matter of picking the right song and the right time to come out with it," he explains. "I have the flexibility now that if all of a sudden I hear something or write something I think could be (a hit), I can cut it real quick and release it and add it to the album without all the red tape I had before," he explains.
John Michael Montgomery and Julianne perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (May 30) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.