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Daily Inspiration: Meet Samantha Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Miller.

Samantha, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’m an Austin native! My paternal Grandmother Collette was a huge influence on me musically when I was growing up. My Grandma was the coolest, she played guitar, banjo, piano, you name it and she sang in multiple polka bands. She was the one that gave me my first guitar, and also got me on stage for the first time singing with her and her polka band. I now realize that she taught me a lot of music theory as well which allowed me to engage more deeply in music learning and exploration. I started singing in choir in school when I was in 4th grade, and I think once I started, I never really looked back. These two journeys were largely separate, although they happened at the same time. When I was in middle school I started writing music, and in high school, I received songwriting awards through the Austin Songwriter’s Group, won the Old Settlers’ Music Festival Youth Artist Competition in 2006, and performed regularly in Austin and the surrounding areas. At the same time, I was singing in middle school and high school choir received Outstanding Performer recognitions at State Solo & Ensemble in 2007 and made the 2008 Texas All-State Choir. Music is just a part of who I am all around, at the end of the day. I got my Bachelor of Music in Choral Education at UT Austin, and I have been teaching Choir (and some songwriting) in Manor ISD for the last 8 years (since 2013). I still perform in the greater Austin area as a singer/songwriter as well.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Music was something that I could turn to help me through challenging personal situations or to lose myself in when it all became too much. I advocate for my students to use music as a way to connect to their deeper emotions, and I often find that I have to follow that same advice. Writing music, and then sharing that music is such a vulnerable act, and can be very cathartic as well. I guess a specific struggle I had was in deciding between my performing and teaching. There were many that advocated for me to try to “make it” in the music industry and give up teaching choir. I just love teaching so much, I also love performing, but the light that music brings to learning musicians is something that can’t be matched by fame and fortune. I love exactly what I do. I think I’ve found a balance in teaching and performing around Austin for my (very loyal) fanbase and community.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I love what I call “flying without a net” in performance. Many artists will use technologies that provide a level of safety in terms of their performance. Things like auto-harmonizers, or pre-recorded drum, guitar, or bass tracks. Everything I do as a performer is 100% live and as I tell my audience frequently, “everything could go terribly wrong at any moment”. I also offer a request list at my gigs and encourage my audience to “try me” with songs that aren’t on the list. Playing a song I’ve never played before in front of a live audience, arranging it on the spot – it’s a rush and I think it’s something that not many performers do. I am also pretty proud of my request list itself; it’s got a very wide variety of music and every cover I do has a bit of my own flair to it.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
A favorite childhood memory is from a trip I took with my whole family to Tennessee when I was I think 7 or 8. My cousin and I were always coming up with creative entrepreneurial adventures and we designed a “resort” in a creek that we called Beaver Falls and we sold ice cream cones and grapes to our family members as they enjoyed the outdoor plastic-chair-in-running-creek ambiance. We also used to “make soap” in a very scientific process involving mixing together a bunch of soap that was around the house and we sold that as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Susie Miller, Lenny Greaney

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