Julie Miller: A heart released and an album worth listening to

Thursday 1st August 1991

Possessing one of the most goose-pimple-inducing voices ever committed to digital, JULIE MILLER has made big waves since her debut solo album 'Meet Julie Miller'. Jan Willem Vink met the singer.

Julie Miller
Julie Miller

Can you tell me something about your musical career?

"I started singing in just regular kind of nightclub bands when I was a teenager and did that for quite a few years, singing around the United States. Then I became a Christian. I got involved with a ministry. This ministry also has a music side. They wrote music for some children's records called 'The Music Machine' and 'Bullfrogs And Butterflies'. I started writing these songs and singing like a child. It got tough! Then a couple of years ago I started working with Myrrh Records and just kind of did a few songs on this little record."

Do you feel you are influenced by Leslie Phillips?

"Actually, you know, most of the musicians that did play on her record only played on a couple of songs on my record. And I don't think the record really sounds like Leslie's records. Hers were real slick. My record is a little funky. But her producer was the same producer. But the way he worked with us was my husband and I did the stuff and he kind of threw in some ideas here and there and oversaw everything."

What subjects are important for you to write songs about?

"I always seem to end up writing songs about God rescuing me because I still can't get over it. It's been ten years and I still think 'How did you do that?' I can't believe it' it seems so incredible because I've been so lost. I really felt hopeless. I like to write about that. And also these songs about hurting, people hurting, people lost. Somehow they are a little sadder, a little melancholy and not always danceable. These are the songs I'm most drawn to write actually."

Could you tell me something about this publicity story concerning the record producer who had been looking for you for years...

"Well, here's what really happened. Leslie Phillips' keyboard player was producing a record for me, which didn't turn out to be a record, for Sparrow, years back. And then we stopped and I thought 'I don't want to do this'. But we had this tape; I gave Leslie Phillips a tape of what we were doing. I met her at a concert through her keyboard player. She found the tape later, it had no name on it. She didn't even remember who I was, where it came from or anything. It wasn't like "Wow, I'm gonna get Julie a record deal!" She didn't even remember me or anything about me. She gave the tape to her producer and it was kind of like his cup-of-tea. So he played it for people for about a year. It had no name on it and finally somebody recognised my voice because it had so many children's songs on it from 'Bullfrogs And Butterflies'! And so he figured out who I was and called me up and kind of got it started."

Why did it take so long before you made your first album? Years back Silverwind had already got one of your songs on their album 'Set Apart'

"I don't know, but I guess it's OK with God. I've been trying my best to hear what He wants me to do. Yeah, that song "What Would Jesus Do" had been done by Silverwind. We were all in the same ministry, the Agape Force; they wanted me to write a song for them and so I actually wrote it not expecting to be doing it myself. But it ended up on my record."

Where did you get the idea for your song "My Psychiatrist"?

"Actually, I went to a psychiatrist for years and years. A couple of times I ended up in a mental institution. I was a wreck, a wreck. And I would go week after week, year after year. And one day I sat in the psychiatrist's office and then I said 'I think my problem is spiritual'. I can't believe I even said that, but I did. God was really working in me. And he was writing and humming. And I looked at him like he's going to commit me right then. They'd commit me every time I said 'I think the Devil's got me'. They locked me up. 'She's schizophrenic, she's manic-depressed'. And I looked at him and said 'Don't you ever think about God?' And he said, 'No'. And as soon as he said that I thought I think you might be the crazy one. OK, thank you. Somehow I realised that this guy had no answers for me. So that is what I was thinking about when I wrote that song. Not that I'm against psychiatry. I really need Christian counselling right now. Working out some real old things, some child abuse from my past. I think Christian counselling, psychology fits, based in the Word of God. Psycholgy submitted to the Word could really help a lot of people who come from an abusive background. I don't want anybody to think psychiatry is bad or a sin necessarily. I was kind of laughing, saying 'See God, you're so great, you're with me all the time. And You know what's wrong with me and You know how to fix it.' Sometimes he does use people to fix it through them."

Imagine you were here with just non-believers. What would you say to them?

"Then I would say 'Children!' (laughs) No. You know I'd like to listen to them. I like to hear where people are at. If I was talking mainly what I would like to share is what the Lord did for me. You could argue about doctrine. But no-one can argue with what the Lord did for me and it seems that means more to people. That's more real to them than any of my 'words of wisdom' could be or anything. I would just tell them whenever they're using drugs, they're using it to escape something that's making them feel bad; and when the Lord comes into your heart and He's with them, they don't want drugs or alcohol to fog them up."

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