“Within this honky tonk setup, grit is a good word to describe the energy here, with the sentiment: 'they say true colors show when the going gets tough.' Mindy shows her own true colors here in a brilliant rainbow.” - Melissa Clarke/Americana Highways
Strong family ties and the impact of the active and vibrant Maryland country/bluegrass scene have played an important role in shaping the career of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mindy M Miller. A singular talent who's been singing, playing guitar and writing songs for decades, Miller's a seasoned professional who's been a Nashville resident for the past four years. But her sound, a powerful and glorious mix of traditional country vocal phrasing and a soulful, bluesy sensibility was strongly shaped by not only learning guitar from her father, but developing her technique and approach performing with her dad’s band. She sang in church and jam sessions at family get togethers and started performing professionally at age 16. Miller also heard the stirring harmonies and poignant tunes of classic bluegrass ensembles like the Country Gentlemen and the Johnson Mountain Boys, just two among the numerous classic bands in that genre who frequently performed at clubs and festivals held in the mid-Atlantic area. She became a prominent part of that scene, appearing at festivals and performing as a side musician with a variety of touring groups. From playing county fairs and main street festivals, coffee shops, dive bars, and eventually opening for major artists, Miller began to make a living playing music before she moved out of her parents' house.
Miller also cites as vital influences country greats like George Jones, Patty Loveless, and in particular Keith Whitley, whose emphatic delivery and evocative presentation proved especially important. "His voice and his songs resonated for me in a very special way," Miller said in recalling the music that's helped her shape her sound. "He had a way of phrasing, a way of saying things that was so profound. It was powerful, but he could express it in such a simple, direct fashion." The deeply personal, intimate manner in which great country and bluegrass artists communicate with their fans through their songs is something that Miller emphasizes in her vocals and writing as well. That idiom is where she feels most comfortable, though she's also done blues and folk material over the years.
Overcoming personal struggles has long been a major theme in some of popular music's greatest songs, regardless of genre, and Miller taps into that motif as well. Music was her therapy. She's unafraid of looking back at past difficulties, but hasn't let them affect her. Another aspect of the family connection is the decade long partnership - both personal & professional - that she's enjoyed with multi-instrumentalist Patrick Gulley. He's a former pedal steel guitar player with the U.S. Navy and was stationed at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Miller hired him to play on a session, and they've worked together ever since. With his extensive family ties in Music City, their move here was both logical and desirable.
Miller's spent the last several months working steadily at various Nashville venues, honing her craft and preparing for the next phase of her career. The amount of maturation and stylistic growth she's made as a vocalist and writer can be heard in Mindy M Miller's new release. Her debut single (October 27, 2023) "I Don't Wanna Drink Whiskey" is a powerfully sung, highly personalized chronicle that's both a reminder of her own past struggles and encouragement to anyone currently battling drinking issues, an emphatic declaration and signal that you can beat it. The tune features Miller - vocals/acoustic guitar, and Gulley on pedal steel guitar — he's also its co-writer. The song was produced by Andy Peake at Nashville's BigLittle Studios, and features several top Music City players in addition to Peake on drums; Chris Leuzinger - guitar, John England - guitar, Mike Ingram - bass, Jody Nardone - keyboards and Michael Lusk - background vocals.
The tune serves as an excellent opener for Mindy M Miller's forthcoming EP, which will be released sometime in 2024. "The lyrics are meant to be both uplifting and instructional," Miller says, "They're a reminder of some things from the past, but also a theme for the future and a way of helping to inspire others through its message of defying a weakness and emerging stronger as a result of it.” In the meantime, she'll continue playing in Music City establishments, honing her craft and performing the exuberant, heartfelt blend of country, bluegrass and soul that have stamped her as a talent to watch.