Montano was born in Carenage (Northwestern Trinidad), and his family moved to Siparia, (Southwestern Trinidad) when he was very young. He attended Siparia Boys’ R.C., then Presentation College, a prestigious secondary school in San Fernando, where he was in the choir led by Mrs. Cynthia Lee-Mack. Machel first shot to fame as a nine-year-old boy with the song “Too Young To Soca” while he was still in primary school. In 1984, along with his older brother Marcus and neighbors, the group Pranasonic Express was started, and in 1989, the band became Xtatik. In April 1986, at the age of 11, Montano appeared on the mainstream television show Star Search. In 1987, he took part in the Trinidad and Tobago National Song Writers Festival, and placed second with his song “Dream Girl”. He also won the Caribbean Song Festival in Barbados, becoming the first Trinidadian and youngest contestant to win this competition.
The band developed and was re-invented by its leader Montano several times, including as The Xtatik Circus, Xtatik The Road Marching Band, and The Band of the Year, as part of his Zen battle to keep his band and his performances fresh. Since 2007 they have been known as Machel Montano HD (High Definition); Montano promotes the concept by saying that he is the first human being to go HD. He claims this characterizes the evolution of his music over the past 25 years and the highly improved style in which his music is presented to his fans in radio format, television, and during live performances. He is part of a campaign in Trinidad and Tobago to promote safe driving – “Arrive Alive”. Part of the hype surrounding Montano since 2007 is his HD tour bus, a 20-year-old bus from the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) that was re-done and includes a bedroom, bathroom facilities, flat-screen TVs, Internet access and expensive audio systems. After its debut in 2007, the bus was re-painted for 2008, the new images of Machel matching various photos from the album artwork of his 2008 CD, Flame On. The bus featured heavily in his videos for “Jumbie” (2007) and “Rollin/Blazin d Trail” (2008). In 2012 Montano won the Road March, Power Soca Monarch, and the Groovy Soca Monarch, thanks in large part to his business and personal manager, James Walton. He won the Groovy Soca Monarch with his rendition of “Mr. Fete”. In May 2012 he launched the music video to his hit single “Bottle Of Rum”. Mr. Walton helped launch merchandise, collaborations, and reality shows to help catapult Montano’s career to new heights.