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Marie Miller on her return to music, her love of literature, and what it was like to perform for Pope Francis.

Interview: Marie Miller on Her New Album, ‘Letterbox’

Photo of Marie Miller
Marie Miller (Credit: Sarah Barlow)

Marie Miller is a talented singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist from Virginia. In 2014, her song “6’2” was featured on Dancing with the Stars. Ms. Miller also performed in an all-star line-up in Philadelphia at the Festival of Families during Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the U.S. Her new album, Letterbox, was released by Curb Records on April 28.

Where did the idea for Letterbox come from?

Letterbox came from the idea when we were selecting songs for the album how it was almost like literal letters to people that I wanted to write but couldn’t, so I wrote a song. In a way, it’s my letterbox, my collection of letters. Also, I write letters myself. I am old school in that way so I felt like that was perfect.

You had a Beatles influence in getting the title as well.

Yes! The song is “Across the Universe” [with] the words “thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox.” I was listening to one of my favorite songs, “Across the Universe,” and I heard that word: letterbox. I thought, wow, that’s a beautiful word. I want that as the album title.

Did you overcome any challenges in making the album? I understand you took a break from music and then came back. 

It was really great. I’m glad I did that because the album couldn’t be what it was if I had done it as a younger person. Having the drive that I have now is important. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do music [then]. It was a good time to take a break.

The record took a year and a half from start to finish. We created a lot of music and ended up having to re-record a bunch of stuff. It was a journey for sure, but I’m really happy with the finished product.

Was it different working with producers this time? 

I had done an EP in 2013 but I definitely had a sense of what I wanted in this project. I had incredible producers, Eric Rosse in Los Angeles and Chad Capelin in Nashville. Together we were collaborating and creatively working very well together.

Tell me more on how your single, “This Side of Paradise,” came about.

I wrote the single after a bad week. I was thinking about how to spin this positively. I was songwriting with two of my friends, Peter Groenwald and Ian Fitchuk. I had a really bad week but I wanted to make this a party song anyway. The title came from the [F. Scott] Fitzgerald novel, This Side of Paradise. I love Fitzgerald and I’m a huge fan of his! We took that title and ran with it.

I’ve seen people dancing at and enjoying your concerts. How have audiences responded to the new tracks?

I’ve been really excited about this project. People have been waiting for new music for a long time. I think so far the response has been awesome. Sirius XM had a morning show for release day. NPR … Jim Gaffigan tweeted about the album. I think there’s been a lot of great buzz.

Like excitement for the new album by the fans, there’s a certain level of anticipation in receiving a letter. Both sentiments fit in nicely with the Letterbox concept and your positive energy in the songs.

I love it. Awesome.

How much advance notice did you receive before playing for Pope Francis? What was that experience like in Philadelphia?

It was incredible and really life changing! I did not know I was going to do it until about 3 weeks before. It was an unforgettable night for us to be able to perform for the Holy Father as a Catholic and to have the experience of being on television and in front of a huge audience. To be included on such an amazing line-up was icing on the cake. My whole family was there. It was one of those nights where you’re high from it for another month. We’re very blessed by that.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros earned a B.A. in Art History on a full scholarship at the University of Virginia. Pat is a frequent reviewer of all things Washington, D.C., but she's also covered events in Canada and London. Highlights in her work include articles on Ian McKellen and Mark Rylance, as well as memorable interviews with Lawrence Gowan of Styx, Tony Bennett, and Kiefer Sutherland. At Awesome Con 2017, Pat moderated a Q&A for voice actors Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat.

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