Even if you don’t know her name, you might know her voice. Marie Miller’s song “6’2,” a sweet prayer from a young girl seeking the perfect romance, will occupy a gentle place in the corner of your brain from the moment you hear it. On the road with Kris Allen’s “Somethin’ About Christmas 2017” tour, she rolled into Wilmington last week for a show at The Queen and lit up when we suggested walking down the street to take some shots at the Ninth Street Book Shop. [Note: This interview is best read with a soundtrack that you can stream here.]
Your music has a literary quality, sometimes right there in the lyrics. Were you always a big reader?
"Yes, and it's sad because I'm reading so much less on the road. Thank goodness for audio books. I'm reading Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Woodlanders’ right now. It's really good. I started with ‘Little Women’ and ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ Narnia and Harry Potter and all that young adult literature. And then I fell in love with the Russian writers, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.”
From the brothers Weasley to the brothers Karamazov – that’s not the most common transition in the world.
“Not necessarily! But I'm so grateful to my parents for encouraging me to read, because once you start, you just start eating it up. The musicians in my family were home schooled so we could go to bluegrass festivals and that kind of stuff. Literature was a big part of our learning, because it was something you could do on the road. Mostly, I write from personal experience, but sometimes I find that characters place themselves in my songwriting. There's a song called ‘Story’ on the new album that literally has the ‘Iliad’ in it, and there's a ‘Lord of the Rings’ reference and ‘Wuthering Heights.’ I love the epics. I've always wanted to live an extraordinary life.”
Do you remember where you were when you heard your song “6’2” play on “Dancing with the Stars?”
“Our whole family watched the show. I've had some special things happen – I got to open for the Backstreet Boys, I performed for Pope Francis – but seeing my song on ABC like that, thinking about the dancers rehearsing to it, that’s just crazy.”
How's the tour going?
“It was hard the first day, because this is so different from normal life. But we loved Boston so much. We got to do a lot more walking around then usual. It's always fun to get to play tourist a little bit. And we've been here in Wilmington since earlier this afternoon and it's been great. I love the downtown.”
The tour ends right before Christmas. When are you going to get your Christmas shopping done?
“I have nine siblings, and they will all be home, even the two who are studying in Poland. That’s really good. But the nice thing is that we do Secret Santas, so I only have to buy for one sibling. I cannot tell you who it is.”
Will you still be singing Christmas songs by then?
“On the road, we’ve joked that we're living inside a snow globe. But I get to sing my favorite songs, one of them being ‘Away in the Manger,’ with a different tune to it -- a sweeter tune. I love singing that and ‘Joy to the World’ and the really simple songs that you've heard a million times.”