Photo courtesy of Emily Miller Music
Emily Miller is a well put together person. That was my first impression upon meeting her for our interview. Her hair and makeup were on point and she looked like she was ready to tackle just about anything. Once we sat down and started talking, it was interesting how things went.
Emily Miller is a country artist who hails from West Chester, Ohio. She attended Endeavor Elementary, Lakota Plains, Lakota West Freshman and Lakota West High Schools. Her father is a successful dentist in that area of Ohio and she credits her mother for him being the success that he is. Her mom is the office manager at the practice and she keeps on top of everything with great efficiency. Miller has an older sister that is on the brink of becoming a doctor. As normal a family as one can imagine.
Image courtesy of townmapsusa.com
Miller was raised mainly on church music. Gospel, old hymns and country hymns. She said her parents were “pretty conservative” so that was the only real music she heard growing up. After her grandfather passed away, she was introduced to some of his old vinyl collection, which included George Jones.
At around the age of ten, Miller found herself obsessing over The Judds, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. Vacations to Gatlinburg, Tennessee helped her find even more country music, eventually turning her into a big Miranda Lambert and Alan Jackson fan.
While her conservative parents may not have agreed with her developing taste in music, Miller did point out that while he was in college, her father was quite the Elvis Presley impersonator. She said he was actually very good at it. Dentistry became his career of choice, but it’s clear he did have a bit of a performing gene and perhaps it was passed down to his youngest daughter.
Miller and her sister began taking piano lessons early. Miller was only six-years old and she remembers she wasn’t the best at practicing. That was because she was being instructed in classical piano which she hated. This resulted in Miller becoming adept at sight reading. So adept, in fact, that she would get to her lesson and somehow wing it enough that her teacher never caught on that she hadn’t done much practicing at all.
A bit later on, she got her first “big girl” guitar. A Gibson that she immediately brought down to her basement and set down on the carpeted floor. That didn’t work out so well for the guitar, because as it touched the floor, the neck broke. The guitar suffered a major injury the very first day. It was repaired but the scar is still visible, according to Miller. She still has it and she’s named it “Old Faithful”. A fitting name because she said even though it’s seen some rough days, it remains true to her and she still plays it.
It wasn’t all music growing up. Miller spent time playing softball and soccer. Soccer didn’t last long because “I hated running,” said Miller. She also took dance lessons. Ultimately, though, music ended up winning out over everything.
I asked Miller to sum up her teen years in a sentence. She replied, “A mixture of finding myself and getting in trouble.” I thought that was a good way to describe many teenagers, but it was refreshing to hear an artist admit that to the world. Most would prefer it if everyone believed they’ve been squeaky clean since birth. Maybe some have, but if you’re going to get out there and call yourself a country artist and sing about real life, you may as well be as real as you can. I think people respect that.
Emily Miller graduated high school and went on to attend Belmont University in Nashville. It wasn’t all sunshine and straight A’s for her. Her freshman year was chaotic at best. Her first roommate was gone within the first couple of weeks, which left Miller virtually alone on campus. Everyone else was becoming good friends with their own roommates and Miller had difficulty finding friends. Her grades suffered and she even skipped a religion final to go on a road trip. That almost resulted in her dropping out of college. Thankfully, she did go back the next semester.
Her sophomore year, she began dating a fellow Belmont student who had a bit of jealous streak when it came to her getting opportunities that he wasn’t getting. As she explained, he had no reason to be jealous because he was getting plenty of other great opportunities to do different things, but he didn’t see it that way. He wanted what she had. They did eventually break up, but they were together for most of her college experience. Miller credits her Belmont voice teacher, Sandra Dudley, for helping her make it through. “She knew what was going on. She talked to me a lot and helped me get through.”
Miller’s first gig was at a “real hole in the wall” near her hometown. It wasn’t anything fancy, but she managed to pack the place. The one really positive thing booking that gig did do was rush Miller into upping her guitar skills. She knew it was going to be all on her. She needed to learn to play a lot of songs by herself quickly. Over the summer between graduation from Belmont and that “hole in the wall” gig, she learned 85 songs on guitar.
Her first “real” gig, however, was in 2018 when she was invited to open for Easton Corbin in Ohio. It was a 45-minute set and she brought along a guitar player and a drummer. She wrote originals for that show and performed them plus other favorite covers. That was a great experience because she met a lot of people that started following her on socials and still do. Easton Corbin heard her set from his bus and came out to say he really enjoyed it. Miller’s guitarist on that gig, Mitch Predella and her drummer, Zach Weisberg, remain part of her band to this day.
Photo courtesy of Emily Miller Music
After college, Miller did not return to her hometown of Ohio. She jumped right into the Nashville music scene. About a week before she graduated, she had an audition at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway and landed that job. “I found myself at Tootsie’s,” Miller said. It was never easy working there. Conditions were tough, but she toughened up right along with them. She’s played at many other downtown venues including Ole Red, Redneck Riviera and Johnny Cash’s Kitchen, none of them being as harsh as Tootsie’s. As difficult as those shifts were, she wears the whole experience like a badge of honor. If she could survive that, she could do anything.
Photo courtesy of Emily Miller Music
Playing Nashville was just the beginning. She then went on to book shows in places like Cincinnati, East Tennessee and South Carolina. All of those areas became very good fan strongholds for her. It didn’t matter if she went and played acoustic or full band shows, she did well. She plays fairly regularly at Ole Red in Gatlinburg and really loves it there. Other notable venues where she has solid fan bases are at Wild Country and Harris Landing, both in South Carolina. Eventually, she said she would love to tour in Texas, Alabama and Georgia and build up a following in those places.
Right now, Miller has music out digitally. “Dear Lonely” is a deeply personal song that she wrote about her own “addiction” to being lonely. This is something she has struggled with her entire life. She was so pleased with the way the song turned out. Producer and Engineer, Colt Capperrune “nailed it”. “Avaline” was a name that Miller dreamed up by herself one night and the song just flowed from her mind. It essentially tells the story of a girl that appears to be perfect on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. Miller said that “Avaline” mirrors her own family situation. “Everyone always saw us in church and thought of us as the perfect Miller girls, but that’s not who were really were.”
She talked of a rocky relationship with her mother. They love each other, but it’s never been a straight line, so to speak, from mother to daughter. There have always been bumps in the road. The strangest thing about “Avaline” is, after the song was written, Miller looked up the name. It means, “A wished for or wanted child,” which is almost chilling. Miller said she had never heard that name before she sat down to write the song. She wasn’t even sure it was a name that existed. It was as though “Avaline” was a song that was wishing to be written.
A new single, “Prince Charming” is set to be released in early 2020. Finishing touches were being worked on at the time of our interview. This song was written for one of Miller’s friends who was getting married. She calls it a slow to midtempo ballad. Look for this song about a girl who finally finds her “Prince Charming” in the near future.
As for where you can see Emily Miller performing live, you might have to wait for the upcoming fair and festival season to see her in many different places. She’ll start booking those dates soon, but for now, she’s still playing in Gatlinburg regularly. Check her social media sites for all the latest information. If you do see her, please be sure to stop by and say hello after the performance. She calls herself highly approachable and enjoys taking photos with fans and signing autographs.
In the beginning of this interview I said that Miller is well put together. I asked where she likes to get her stagewear. She said she’s “piecey” and likes to find different pieces in different places and put outfits together that way. Some of her favorite things include anything from Boot Barn, Miranda Lambert’s Idyllwind and Lil Bee’s Bohemian. She’s also a big fan of Buckin Buckarette, a specialty maker of custom guitar straps and jewelry. The waiting list for anything from Buckin Buckarette is probably getting longer by the minute. She’s created guitar straps for all sorts of celebrities including Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs. Her work is absolutely stunning.
Ashley McBryde photo courtesy of 90 East Photography
As far as songwriting goes, Miller prefers to write by herself. Not very common in a town where people love to co-write. She did, however, say she would like to start collaborating more. She said Drake Austin, a fellow Ohio native would be her first choice as someone she’d like to write with. If she’s dreaming big, she’d like to sit down with Lori McKenna or Brandy Clark. Always dream big, I say. You never know what can happen.
Miller calls Susan Bauer, her high school senior choir director as someone who had a major impact on who she’s become as a person today. “Anytime I had an issue, she was my biggest cheerleader. She always had my back.” The day that Miller’s single, “Avaline” came out, she went back to her high school and saw Bauer.
We had a little extra time so we did a quick “Fast Five”. Here’s how that went:
Think Country: Where in Nashville to get nails done?
Emily Miller: I can’t think of the name but it’s in the Green Hills area on Hillsboro Pike, right next to the Greek place. I’ve seen Miranda Lambert and Pistol Annies getting their nails done there. Ughhh… why can’t I think of the name? They do a great job there.
Think Country: Best coffee in Nashville:
Emily Miller: I don’t drink coffee.
Think Country: Last minute Christmas shopping. Where do you go?
Emily Miller: If it’s for a girl, Sephora or Ulta. I love makeup.
Think Country: In Nashville, my “person” is ________.
Emily Miller: Drake.
Think Country: If you come to my place unannounced, I will not let you see my ________ unless you pay me.
Emily Miller: bedroom
We then played a quick game of “Name that Tune” with one of my country music playlists. Emily did well! She got six out of ten correct. A few of them within one note. She knows her country music.
When Emily Miller “Thinks Country” what does she think? “Truth.”
As I said, my first impression was Emily Miller is a well put together person, and she is. She isn’t perfect though, and she is the first to admit that. She has struggled with all kinds of things throughout her life. She’s found herself in trouble quite a few times, she almost messed up college. She loves her family but she’s candid about having difficulties there at times. She’s had breakups that weren’t pretty among other things. Everyone has more than one layer. Even Miller, who just happens to have a very good voice and has chosen a career in the spotlight. Give her a follow and absolutely listen to her music. I think you’ll find her music to be honest and entertaining. Imperfection makes for some truly good country music. I think we all know that. The best in the business were a little rough around the edges. The only difference between them and Miller is she’s a little rough underneath the surface. I can appreciate that.
Photo courtesy of Emily Miller Music
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*Featured image courtesy of Emily Miller Music