Deena Miller - A Thousand Words Of Powerful Emotion
Considering her upbringing, it's no wonder that singer/songwriter Deena Miller became a musician. After all, how could a child growing up in a house with legendary producer Jimmy Miller (Rolling Stones, Traffic, Blind Faith) and singer Gayle Shepherd (formerly of The Shepherd Sisters) not grow up to be involved somehow in music?
By the time Deena was 8 years old, she was already singing her own songs and accompanying them on guitar. "I don't remember ever not playing music," says Deena. "My mom and dad divorced when I was like, 5, so my dad stayed on in London to finish all those records, but they were both extremely supportive of me and my music." She laughs. "They really had no choice, right? It was just something I was going to do anyway."
Deena continued pursuing a career in music after leaving home, and soon found herself working as a session musician and performing at industrial shows worldwide. All on the strength of her talent alone and without a formal background in music.
"I am grateful really for the corporate shows, jingles, and session work I do here in NYC," says Deena "that's how I make my living, you know, because you can't really make a living being an artist these days. My artist outlets are a true labor of love." Her remarkable talent as a singer also led Deena on a world tour with Meatloaf, as his featured vocalist, and to the position as Director of Chick Singer Night in NYC. Chick Singer Night is the longest running National showcase for female singer songwriters now in it's 15 year.
Deena, Lori Maier & Norah Jones at Chick Singer Night 15th Anniversary show
Despite her success as a performer in the sidelines, Deena's interest still lay in writing and recording her own material. Her original work eventually gained interest from several record labels, including RCA, MCA, and A&M which offered her development deals. However, those deals fell through, and the proposed records were never finished or released.
On the advise of her manager, Hernando Courtright, she decided to release her debut album on his and his wife, former Epic A&R, Doreen Reilly Courtright's new independent label, Fore Reel Records. "We got so sick of trying to find a deal or trying to find the right producer, we decided to just to do it on our own," says Deena. "This was when the indie scene was just starting to really be big, so we thought we had a good chance of getting the record heard. So we went through volumes of tape and just put together a bunch of tunes that were our favorites."
The result is "A Thousand Words," a dramatic collection of songs that wonderfully showcase Deena's range as both a musician, songwriter and production work with Steve Jankowski. The deceptively soft-sounding rock songs are full of powerful emotion, of being in love and losing loved ones. "The record is just a whole collection of tunes that I'd written over the years," explains Deena.
Deena and Joan Jett
"They're not the happiest songs, I admit," she adds. "I feel I'm always more creative when I let the dark side in. It's been more or less my therapy, for so many years. As a matter of fact, right now, I'm finding that I'm writing more in the third person because I'm happy. My dad passed away ten years ago, and I had to deal with a lot of issues, and songwriting was sort of my way to retreat, to sort of disappear into a room and hammer out my emotions."
It's definitely the instrumentation in these songs that keeps them from being too dark. Deena' acoustic guitar, Lee Finklestein's light percussion, the jazz bass of Leo Huppert, and the fantastic electric guitarwork of Jimmy Leahey all conspire to lift these songs out their emotional depths. It's a perfect balance that works well throughout the record. It especially works well in the loving tribute to Deena's late father, Jimmy Miller, in her emotional tribute, "Come Through My Voice."
"You can't be heard, but maybe you can sing it through me….Come through my voice, come through my song, I'm still alive," sings Deena against a backdrop of guitar and violins, and it's just so nice you have to listen to it again and again.
"Some of the songs I wrote here were extremely private to me, but after a while, I sort of just let them out," finishes Deena. "Now, I write in the third person. I can't really tap into that dark side like I used to be able to. It's a whole different vibe. I don't know what the next record's going to like, because of the way I write songs now."
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