Chelsea Miller
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Chelsea Miller

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Oct. 31, 2007, 10:30AM
Chelsea Miller

By SARA CRESS
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Consider the young songwriters, toiling at open-mic nights at whatever stage will have them. Some are lousy, pushing out forced lyrics to simple tunes. The goal is to improve; to become a featured act on a Tuesday night. But there are others, like Missouri City's Chelsea Miller, who step onstage fully-formed, destined to be stars.

"My mom was an elementary school music teacher. She started my brother and I singing when we were old enough to talk," Miller explains.

Good for mom. Miller, 24, has blossomed into a sparkling singer, with an edge of smoke on her pitch-perfect delivery. She molds this voice around her lovely, acoustic songs about sadness and love on her debut, self-titled EP. But Miller, with her fiercely confident personality, prefers to offer her songs from a stage.

"When I have a free night I find an open mic," Miller says. "I love the stage. I'll jump up onstage when I'm not supposed to be onstage."

She started doing open-mic nights 3 years ago. She's still doing them, everywhere from the Mucky Duck to Cosmos Café to Woodlake Pub, a west-Houston venue she praises for bringing in a younger audience.

"I'm looking for places with younger people to play for. I play with people who are a lot older than me."

Not that the young songwriter has rejected the help of her elders. Miller's first paying gig was with songwriter-scene regulars Ken Gaines and Wayne Wilkerson. She has performed for five years with guitar player Kenyon Saylor White, formerly of Morningside Drive, who happens to be folk singer-songwriter Saylor White's son. This has proved to be a tremendous boon for Miller's fledgling career.

"He has absolutely opened a million doors for me and introduced me to a lot of cool people," Miller says. "If you can entertain, if you can get onstage and talk to the crowd, and you can hold a tune, the older songwriters will support you."

In particular, Miller's June EP release party was at Anderson Fair, the legendary acoustic listening room that has launched many songwriting careers. "Saylor White and Ken Gaines helped me get my foot in the door there. I lucked out. I wanted nothing less than spectacular for the release party. I picked all my favorite artists to play with and it was perfect. We packed the place."

White and Gaines were also an integral part of Miller's most cherished musical memory: the Kerrville Folk Festival.

"Performers play concerts every day until 9 p.m., but that's when everything really starts. There's people playing music everywhere until the sun comes up. You get to play with musicians you've only dreamed about playing with. You get to hear your songs with every instrument possible.

"Kenyon and I sat down at a circle with his dad and Ken Gaines. We were the youngest by 20 years. We knew we had to do our best because otherwise we'd feel really stupid around these great songwriters. We played better than we've ever played before." - Houston Chronicle


Discography

Five song acoustic Self-Titled E.P. - released on June 24, 2007. All five tracks currently recieve radio airplay on 90.1 KPFT.

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Bio

Houston area singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and photographer Chelsea Miller inspires crowds of all ages with a variety of songs from a variety of genres. In between intricate finger-picking patterns with sweet soft melodies and melodic tunes, she’ll produce faster more alternative songs that display the incredible highs and lows of her vocal range and the passionate soft to loud volumes she is capable of producing at unexpected moments.
“She sings so effortlessly, it sort of spills out of her… I’ve heard everything from barely making sound where her voice is vibrating just barely enough to get the notes out.. to powerfully belting notes out at the top of her lungs…It seems so easy for her..” – Chris Collins – HAAM Radio Show, KPFT
Originally a pianist/songwriter from the grand age of 9 years old, Chelsea only recently picked up the guitar in 2003. The depth of her songs goes beyond the stories told through her lyrics, but to the intricate interlacing of the vocal parts with the guitar pieces, the random structure that makes sense when it shouldn’t, and the emotion and passion that inspires every note she plays and sings. As for inspiration, it’s obvious that the need to reach out to those around, those who are listening with open hearts and open minds is of great importance. “It’s the feeling that I want people to be able to understand and actually feel my music, listen to what I’m saying and think, “I’ve felt like that before.” Whatever they my be going through, I want them to be able to listen to my songs and feel like the words I’m singing are coming from them...” “Writing is also how you track your life, how you remember. So later on.. I’ll listen to things I’ve written and think “ I remember that day. I remember that moment. Singing these memories brings me back in ways that nothing else could.”
Chelsea received the Grand Honors Female Songwriter award at the 2007 Texas Stars and Guitars Fest.