Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 40: Marie Miller

The other day I was contemplating, reflecting as we often do during this uncertain time of COVID-19… with no end in sight. I was contemplating as to why people have certain likes and dislikes, and why other people have others. I know, I know, it’s a strange topic to dwell upon. But bear with me for one second. See I love Chinese food, and most things Asian. Noodles, rice, laksa, curries, stir fry, satay, teriyaki, tom yum soup, wontons, dumplings… you name it, anything remotely Asian I will try, and I will most definitely like. I’m pretty much easy to please on that front. Food-wise I’ll give most things a go- and perhaps it’s because my mum’s Malaysian; that an innate part of me will always be drawn back to Asian food. On the other hand, though my dad is German, his cuisine has hardly grabbed a hold of me- not in the same way that Chinese food has. Sure, there’s Adendbrot, and Kassler, and Red Cabbage (maybe that’s a family tradition on Dad’s side rather than a German tradition!); but aside from that there isn’t much more that resonates with me. Though there are a lot of German dishes– some that probably Dad hasn’t heard of! Dad really loves liquorice, and Jon and myself do not. Dad loves Dominostein, and we don’t. Pfeffernüsse is ok-ish, but again- Dad loves it! And this got me thinking. That if our likes and dislikes in terms of food can be so contrastingly and vastly different, with only a few things in common… then does that translate into other areas and aspects of our own lives? And more specifically in terms of music (of course I’d go back to music… as I am in the midst of a blog series on artists and their burgeoning influence!), how do we all find one artist resonating and deeply impactful, and someone else find the same artist downright horrible and uninspiring?

Yes, I get that we all are products of our environment and where we’ve grown up and our values and morals and how our parents raised us- yes we all are a culmination of that; but when we’re all faced with and presented with a musical work of art and a once in a lifetime song, say “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, or “I’ll Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, or even “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, and let’s just say that these songs aren’t songs we’re accustomed to hearing on a daily or regular basis… can we rise above our preconceptions and our assumptions, and realise great art for great art? Or do we revert back to our favourites, and shun future greats of the music industry, just because they don’t fit ‘our’ version of what music should sound like? Whether our preferences or favourite genre of music is pop, country, CCM, worship, rap, opera, folk, metal… if another song comes out of nowhere and disrupts our way of thinking, and our entire basis of how music should be viewed and valued- do we dismiss that song? Or shall we say ‘God, use this song, even if I don’t connect with it in the moment, to point me back to you, to point others to You, and to draw us all closer to Yourself, and with community with others’? This really is my prayer for right now, and for the future. That music genres do not limit us all into our little bubbles of preferences of how God can and cannot speak, and of how He should and should not speak. No more of those divides… because I do believe that God can speak through… anything He chooses.

And He has spoken through the absurd and the unbelievable. A burning bush. Balaam’s donkey. A shepherd boy. An 8-year-old king. Pharoah’s second in command who was sold into slavery by his brothers. A hundred-year-old man who was the father of all generations. A gigantic whale. Dry bones being brought back to life. A prostitute. A dead-but-now-alive Lazarus. The repentant thief on the cross. And most of all, a baby born in a manger destined to be the Saviour of the whole world. See God can and has used all types of people in order to further His kingdom. The Bible has no shortages of heroes who seemed to be outsiders and not fitting in with the mould as to what following Jesus looked like. But God is sovereign, He has a plan, and He is holy. If He chooses to bless someone through a metal or screamo song, or even via the K-pop group BTS (who are really popular right now, but I probably won’t ever connect with them on any level!); then so be it. Are we all so blind to our own preconceived ideas of how life should be life- that we forget that the way life is, is completely different, and God can use everything to for His glory and our good?

Over the past few days, I’ve had a mental analysis of the types of artists I’ve written about throughout this blog series of up-and-coming artists who have potential influence, or are starting to come into their own now. I’ve blogged about pop artists (13) and country artists (10) the most- and this has got me thinking. Do I, even in me expanding my music genre palate, have preconceived thoughts and ideas that I need to shake? Am I too comfortable musically? Am I not giving other artists a chance because they’re different? Am I not giving God a chance to speak through these artists, even though I maybe subconsciously think He never could? Sure, I’ve blogged about NF (rap), Lewis Capaldi, Colony House, The New Respects (all rock), Jordan Smith (adult contemporary/vocal), Anthem Lights (boy-band), Marc Martel (Queen impersonator), Lauren Daigle, Zach Williams, Matthew West (all CCM artists), Peter Hollens (acapella) and Mandy Harvey (deaf jazz singer); but with two genres making up more than half of my list thus far…. Isn’t that pretty concerning? And this is why I have dived deep in this installment, and searched and searched until I found an artist that was completely different. An artist that I am challenged by, an artist that isn’t afraid to break the mould in terms of musical genres, and an artist true and authentic to themselves. Marie Miller is a folk singer in her own right- and though she’s been around since 2011 with her single “You Make The Most Of Me”; the world probably has no idea who she is, and that truly is a shame. For God has reminded me through Marie that inspiration and heartfelt melodies with a relatable and beautiful message- can be found in the most unexpected places. If we’re blinded to our music preferences (and to be fair, there’s not that many people who prefer to listen to folk music in the world!), then how can we hear God speaking through Marie? Isn’t it time to go in with open ears and open hearts?

I first became acquainted with Marie Miller’s music way back in 2011 as I was a music reviewer for the now defunct website Christian Music Zine (still active in its youtube page… go figure!). At the time I was new to twitter (I only had joined for a few months or so!), and I was on a follow frenzy and followed a number of music artists, hoping they’d follow me back and I’d be famous. I know, I know, that was my thought process back then- pretty juvenile, don’t you reckon? Anyway, I digress. I think back then I retweeted another music artists (can’t remember who it was) sharing the music video of Marie’s new song “Make the Most Of Me”. since then, the music video was taken down, and reuploaded in 2014- but the fact of the matter was that the track resonated with me so much that I decided to post the video as a ‘news’ article on Christian Music Zine. At the time, I was only writing music reviews for the site, and I think I posted the video without officially becoming a ‘news reporter’- so I was actually going against the rules per se of posting the video… but the essence of this spiel is this- that Marie’s song impacted me much more than I initially thought. I didn’t give much thought to the song nor the artist much more after that, but it was only when the song was reuploaded to Youtube in 2014 (though the song isn’t available on Apple Music!), and also when Marie released her 2013 single “You’re Not Alone” that took notice of this passionate and hopeful young artist.

Driven by the piano, “You Make the Most Of Me”, sung to God, is a admission of unworthiness, and has Marie eloquently relaying to God that ‘…You breathe Your life into my soul, You take away the impossible, I can feel Your mystery moving in my hands and feet, leading me through disbelief, finding strength when I feel weak…’. A worship song at its most basic form, the phrase repeated in the chorus of ‘you make the most of me’ is quite remarkable. It reminds us that every part of our story is used by God, even the parts we don’t like and are ashamed to show others. Though God does not cause the harrowing parts of our story and the parts that are shameful- He does use it all and makes the most of what is before Him, creating a beautiful tapestry along the way. Simple yet effective, Marie’s debut single shines and speaks volumes, and piques our interest to what is coming next in her career. “You’re Not Alone”, Marie’s second single, presumably sung by God or from a mate to another mate, reassures us that we’re all not alone in this life, and that friends, family and God are all there by our side. Again a simplistic melody, the passion and charm that Marie exudes here is enough to bring smiles to our faces- and there’s no denying the outpouring of joy that comes from someone who is enjoying making music to bring life and life abundant to people. The beauty of this song is that it can be interpreted by anyone to mean something of a platonic relationship nature or of a spiritual nature- and that’s a great thing indeed. Some would say that Marie isn’t being smart or wise in her decision to omit ‘Jesus’ from her songs, given that she’s a strong Catholic. However songs are indeed a universal language, and if God has put it on Marie’s heart to minister to mainstream audiences then who am I to judge her for it? “6-2”, a tongue-in-cheek song about the particular boxes we place for God to move within in relation to our future spouse; is another relatable track, as we are confronted with the idea of having set definitions, and being rigid in places where God wants to shatter and redefine.

There are plenty more songs that have impressed me greatly from Marie. Songs like “Glitter Gold”, “Lost At Sea”, “Little Dreams”, “The Lonely Ends”, “Two To One”, and even Marie’s cover of “Wayfaring Stranger”, have all helped re-evaluate my enjoyment levels of folk music in general. Yet this artist out of the 39 artists I’ve previously blogged about is different. Aside from Lauren Daigle, Rachel Platten and Philippa Hanna (all of whom I have greatly resonated with to a greater extent than Marie’s music, and all of whom I felt that I needed to blog about them in my own words!), the rest of the artists I have blogged about were about artists that I myself as a music listener were writing about them for virtually the first time. Well, aside from Matthew West though, but it felt like I was resonating with his music for the first time back in January 2020…. But I digress. For the most part, I came into writing most of my blogs with limited or no knowledge of these artists, what they were about, what they stood for, and what their songs meant. And each week I dove deep head-first into the unknown and unlocked a different side to myself that was impacted by music I never thought could resonate with me. Each time I was challenged and confronted by the reality that music speaks to us all on different levels, and that depending on our circumstances, what speaks to us today is different from what speaks to us tomorrow. And that’s ok. Yet what makes Lauren Daigle, Rachel Platten and Philippa Hanna different to the other artists in this blog series, and how do they relate to Marie Miller? Well first of all I had slightly more knowledge of these artists going into these blogs. I’d head Rachel’s debut album Wildfire in 2016, while Lauren Daigle’s debut How Can It Be was in 2015, and Philippa Hanna’s latest two albums were reviewed by my brother Jon here and here. For these artists I read the reviews that Jon uploaded, decided to voice my own thoughts in the blogs… and the rest was history. But with Marie Miller– Jon’s said it all so eloquently that… I don’t think I need to write about Marie’s songs in my own words. To tell you the truth, my music likes are virtually similar to Jon’s, and I have been blessed to hear Marie grow as a singer, songwriter and a vocalist since 2011. Yet with Jon already writing reviews about Letterbox (2017) and Little Dreams (2020), let me just say that I believe there isn’t much point in my regurgitating of information or writing my more or less similar opinion of what is already written. Marie has reminded me that music other than pop can inspire and encourage and can speak about God and the human condition just as much, and maybe even more so than what is currently on the radio, the type of music that you’d expect God to use. Yet she has also reminded me that the unsung artists, the underappreciated artists that no one knows about- perhaps more is less here. Sometimes it’s best to let the music speak for itself here- and thus this is exactly what I am doing. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the explaining and the explaining of what this song means and that songs means and this other song may mean- that maybe the best thing to do is to just say ‘here’s the song’ and let it mean whatever it does. Because once we limit what this song says and what that song says… then have we limited God? God isn’t able to be placed in a box- and so let me present with you some quotes from our reviews of Marie’s latest albums- and you can let us know what you think.

About Letterbox as a whole: So then, let me just say this from the outset- Letterbox isn’t marketed as a Christian album. In fact, I’m not even sure if Marie Miller is even classified underneath the umbrella of the ‘Christian’ music genre anymore. Still, most, if not all of her tracks on this album have some kind of emotion, heart, message or even something to get out of it- in fact, all these 12 tracks on the album are in fact inspired by letters, written by Marie and addressed to different people throughout her life. Whether she even wrote or sent them is a different story- maybe it was too difficult to write a letter to someone or maybe that person she was wanting to write a letter to had passed on or moved away. Regardless, all these songs are addressed to someone, with some songs being clearer as to who that ‘someone’ is. That is part of this beautiful ambiguity, that these tracks can minister and encourage someone who is seeking comfort in whatever circumstance. God can, and I’m sure He certainly does, use these songs on Letterbox to speak to people about their own relationships with their fellow man (or even their relationship with Christ Himself), as Letterbox becomes one of the most musically different and thematically and lyrically layered collection of songs I’ve heard throughout all of 2017 thus far!

As we look through the 12 tracks, we see a theme that has been threaded through from top to bottom, about how the letters we write can be as poignant, impacting and compelling for the person who the letter was directed to, as well as the person writing it too. Each song on the album is a reminder of the necessity to speak our minds in love to the people in our lives before it was too late…like I’m sure it was too late with some letter-songs written on this album.

Letterbox, upon reflection, is quite possibly one of my favourite albums of 2017 thus far. Even though there is no mention of ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ inside these 12 tracks, what I do know is this- these songs are full of heart and emotion that I’m sure the Lord will use these songs to minister to people where they are at- I know I’ve been ministered to through ‘Two to One’ and ‘Glitter Gold’ to name a few. On the whole, Marie’s first full-length album (after her quasi-popular EP titled You’re Not Alone in 2013) is certainly a bright spot for anyone who loves folk/acoustic/pop, with an inspirational/emotive aspect to it. Marie’s joyous singing and folk atmosphere are able to carry the album as each of these 12 songs remind us of life, faith, God and the journey towards us living a life full of hope, encouragement, zeal and enthusiasm. A great job for Curb in cultivating the music of Marie, this album has come as a welcomed surprise for 2017, maybe even one of the surprises for me since the introduction of Lauren Daigle, Jordan Feliz and Zach Williams in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Well done Marie for such a heartfelt and compelling album, and one of the artists I reckon will continue to be a crossover success in the upcoming months ahead!

About “Lost At Sea”, “Stones You Throw”: “Lost At Sea” carries on from “Boardwalk” in how we are presented with a relationship-style melody as Marie asks the question- are we lost at sea? Whether the question is poised to her friend, her boyfriend, or just asking the question, about whether we’re lost in the sea of the mundane, in a life where we as friends and family need to be firmly planted and grounded in a foundation that can’t be shaken with the tides; “Lost at Sea” nevertheless asks a myriad of questions, and that is a good thing. The bouncy drum-filled music atmosphere helps as well, as this track musically is the most gripping and riveting out of any in the entire album… “Stones You Throw” is sobering to say the least, this acoustically driven melody speaks of how your actions have consequences, that what we carry and how we act in certain circumstances have effects that are like ‘ripples’ from the ‘stones you throw’, travelling far and wide and affecting a lot of people- more than we may know. So, this song calls us to be careful, upon knowing that how we carry ourselves, what we say, what we don’t say, and how we behave, all can have a positive or negative impact in and on the world we’re living in today- a very much humbling moment this song brings to the fore.

About “Glitter Gold”, “Two to One”, “The Lonely Ends”: And then there’s “Two to One”, “The Lonely Ends” and “Glitter Gold”, my favourite three songs on the album. Not that the other songs by Marie aren’t that great, it’s just that for me, these three tracks have become anthems if you will, as I myself have been greatly impacted positively as I hear these tracks. “Two to One”, first off, is about a union and partnership between two peoples (spouses most likely) and how they are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Rather than quitting and throwing in the towel, the song depicts an honest and real relationship in how both these individuals long to get back to the day where two becomes one, where the union was real, honest, and much more ever-lasting and impacting than it is currently. While on the surface, the song is about two people in a relationship, I can’t help but think. How a relationship is between a man and a woman is exactly how it is between Christ and the church, since we are all made in His image. “Two to One” can also be a reminder that the Lord wants us to come back to a union between Himself and His creation, and that maybe, just maybe, Marie Miller and this song can be a catalyst for anyone who hears it to look deep within and see if their relationships, both earthly and heavenly, need repairing or assistance. “The Lonely Ends”, the last track on the album, invites us into a melancholy moment of revelation, that it is only when we are with our true love and beloved that our loneliness can truly be rid of- and even if we are still single (like myself), the song can still ring true, as we all know that our beloved and true love (aside from our spouse with I’m sure the Lord has in store for us when the time is right), is Jesus Himself. “Glitter Gold” is the remaining song on Letterbox, and is by far one of the most emotional and impacting. This is hard-hitting and heartfelt at its purest, as the track was written with a friend of Marie’s in mind, one who had sadly lost their way. Since this album is called Letterbox, Marie and this friend probably haven’t been in contact that much lately, so this letter is her way of hoping that everything is ok. More so, the track is sure to become an anthem where people encourage anyone that they know who has lost their way temporarily, hoping and praying that they come back for help and guidance in their own walk in life. “Glitter Gold” is about looking at the potential in people, and mining for the gold in and amongst all the shiny glitter. A song that is certain to be one of my favourites come the end of 2017, Marie has certainly delivered on this track, and every other on Letterbox!

About Little Dreams as a whole: Three years on, Marie has moved from Curb Records to creating music independently, while still holding onto the acoustic/folk flavour and still trying to deliver songs that have meanings for people both ascribing to a belief, or to no belief at all. What has resulted from this time period of 3 years is this- a collection of 9 songs that are all aptly titled Little Dreams. An album of acoustic/folk/reflective goodness that reminds us all that even within the mainstream industry, folk/acoustic isn’t a genre that is well-represented and respected even; Marie’s new songs deliver a myriad of themes as she hopes for us all to use these songs as a way for us to get in touch with the deepest parts of ourselves, and to be challenged by the powerful words in each of these melodies, to become better versions of ourselves than before. From standout songs like ‘Little Dreams’, the folksy and upbeat ‘Homeland’, to the reflective cover ‘Wayfaring Stranger’; this is a must-have album, if you’ve enjoyed Marie’s previous work, or if you appreciate similar artists like JJ Heller, Ellie Holcomb, The Gray Havens or Sara Groves, to name a few.

As I’ve heard this EP again and again, I’m safe to say that this collection of songs are some of the most emotive I’ve heard in 2020 thus far. Even though there is no mention of ‘Jesus’ inside these 9 tracks (‘God’ and ‘Saviour’ do make it a few times) what I do know is this- these songs are full of heart and emotion that I’m sure the Lord will use these songs to minister to people where they are at- I know I’ve been ministered to through songs like ‘Little Dreams’ and ‘Brave New Step’, to name a few. On the whole, Marie’s sophomore album (after her critically acclaimed album Letterbox and her quasi-spiritual EP titled You’re Not Alone in 2013) is certainly a bright spot for anyone who loves folk/acoustic/pop, with an inspirational/emotive aspect to it. Marie’s joyous singing and folk atmosphere are able to carry the album as each of these 9 songs remind us of life, faith, God and the journey towards us living a life full of hope, encouragement, zeal and enthusiasm. Well done Marie for such a heartfelt and compelling album, and one of the artists I reckon will continue to be a crossover success in the upcoming months ahead!

About “Homeland”, “Little Dreams”, “Butterfly Collector”, “Imaginary Friend”: ‘Homeland’ is a moment of realisation that the callings on our lives, however personal they may be, need not to be overlooked, but is is a moment where we understand that we must sacrifice things personal to us in order for the common goal to be ever-more attained. ‘Little Dreams’, the title track on the EP, brings to life this understanding that dreams that we have are precious, and things we need to hold onto in this life where uncertainty is more the norm in this current economic state. ‘Little Dreams’ the song is a chance for us to dream big and to go after what the world may say is impossible, for it is in when we look to not what we see now, but what we envisage to be, that we can move from the comfortable to the confronting, and hopefully allow us all to positively change and embark on our journeys to actualise our dreams into reality. ‘Butterfly Collector’ uses this running motif and compares beautiful women and girls (or even people in a vulnerable state of being) to being butterflies, and butterfly collectors being attributed to those people who take direct affection towards people in such a vulnerable state- it can be seen as people who take other people as child brides, people who engage in human trafficking, whatever the case; ‘Butterfly Collector’ is a warning for us to stay clear of people who usually latch on to ‘pretty young people’, in a way that is creepy and such where they want to give them a ‘good life’ but when all they do is just place ‘…me in a pretty crystal jar and then turned on the light, I could finally see surrounding me, a thousand others in every color left in the dark…’ ‘Imaginary Friend’, a heartfelt emotive melody, is such where you can feel for Marie in her ‘plight’, as this persona declares in the song of a love lost before it has started- never talking to someone because of whatever reason, and being ‘content’ with love never ‘ending’ because it never ‘began’. ‘Imaginary Friend’ is for people who may feel stuck relationally, and for whatever reason, are guarded and don’t want their heart damaged, and thus, they close themselves off to possibilities of love and loss, because of the hurt that comes alongside it.

About “Don’t Look For God”, “Brave New Step”, “Wayfaring Stranger”: ‘Don’t Look For God’ is a song that is compelling as the one before, as Marie reminds us all to not look for God in the places where we may think we can find Him, because more often than not, He’s in the places that are overlooked, the different, the situations and circumstances where we may not have given a second glance. Not looking for God will go against the grain that we are, because we as curious humans and people longing for the eternal want to look for God in the things of this world, but as we’ve come to understand and recognise, we have a certain way of how we think God Himself will manifest or even show up in our lives, and then when what God does, doesn’t coincide with what we may think of Him, we shake our fists. This song is one that can hopefully provide to us freedom- to allow God to come to us rather than searching in our own strength a God who is equal parts mysterious as He is beyond the ways of comprehension of any man. ‘Brave New Step’ ends the album, as a tribute to all the unsung heroes in our lives that are doing tasks thanklessly and tirelessly, for people who just get the job done, and people that take brave steps into the unknown, without knowing the consequences, but knowing full well that it is the right things to do- the song itself taking a whole new meaning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic as the song is now a tribute to essential workers and people putting themselves in harm’s way for whole communities to be safe. Marie also brings to us her rendition of folk-gospel hymn ‘Wayfaring Stranger’. Though it’s a song that I myself haven’t heard before, the song nevertheless has been covered by many an artist- Ed Sheeran and Johnny Cash inclusive. The song itself is one of travelling on a road towards a known destination- in the words of the song, to travel through this world ‘…to see my Saviour, I’m going there, no more to roam…’

‘…so I decided to call the album Letterbox because what I realized while I was looking through the songs is that many of the songs were like letters to people that I couldn’t write to and so I wrote a song about them. “Angeline” is a song on the album which is about having a best friend growing up and eventually drifting apart. “Glitter Gold” is about for a friend with addiction. There was just one thing after another of these things that I wanted to say to these people but couldn’t do so to their face so it’s the letters to them…and also the Across The Universe song by The Beatles has a line “thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox” and that’s one of my favourite songs so I wanted to pay tribute to a song that I love so much…’

I have a few favorite books. I would say Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers KaramazovAnna Karenina by Tolstoy, Lord of the Rings and The Great Gatsby. I’m old school; I don’t know a lot of new books. People will be like, “Oh my gosh, have you read this New York Times best seller,” and I’m just still catching up on old stuff first.

All of those characters in the books that I’ve read, they’re just so vivid to me. I think a great book makes the characters just run out of the page and become part of your life and part of your story. For me, those characters get to play a part in my songwriting. So I’m writing a song, and it has something to do with something that happened in real life, but then maybe I’ll intertwine a character that I met in a book but that has become really real to me.

I think that a lot of the struggles and triumphs and the situations are pretty universal. So just things like love, friendship, suffering, trying to get through hard times, courage–all those things we all can universally relate to, and those characters are just having particular instances of those things. So, for example, “This Side Of Paradise”—which was the first song that came out from the new album—is inspired by an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel called This Side of Paradise, but you probably wouldn’t even know that. Mainly when people hear it they go, “Oh, that sounds like a song where you’ve had a really crappy day and you’re trying to just rally yourself.”

There isn’t much on Wikipedia or the internet about Marie Miller. Just a few articles and a short Wikipedia page. Not much to go on with you’re looking for inspiration to find as to whether Marie is influential or not. But as you all can read above with Marie’s near-flawless two albums (Letterbox and Little Dreams) plus her debut single and debut EP; perhaps in some circumstances songs are enough. Sure, it’d be nice to read about sometime extra this artist did- but some artists are just influential because of the music. Marie Miller is one such artist. Although Marie has performed for Pope Francis in 2015, and was also inspired as a songwriter by the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and not to mention being able to play the mandolin and the bouzouki (which I reckon is pretty cool!); you won’t find information on a supported charity or something bigger than music that she stands up for. but Marie does have a website where she blogs at, and has also spoken a lot about her faith in relation to her most recent album. I’ve mentioned time and time again that the measure of a person, whether that person stands the test of time in influence and popularity, or whether they fall by the wayside, is determined by how they handle themselves off the stage and their private life. Sort of like who you really are is when you’re by yourself, when no one is looking- that sort of thing. I’ve said this countless times- and Marie’s blog on her website and her interview about her faith especially has reminded me that you can be a Christian and affect the wider world around you. You can make a difference in the world around you by not conforming to the norm- and just like how Marie isn’t making pop music, yet is still excelling; so too can we appreciate listening to other types of music outside of our comfort zone, and still be impacted by God through these melodies. I spoke earlier about resonating with Chinese food more so than German food, and wondering if each of us are hard wired to like certain things over others. And I’ve come to this conclusion. That even if we do, even if we all are different like that- that doesn’t mean we can’t grow to like other things. That we can’t hear from God through other means. That we can’t be blessed by Marie Miller the same way as we’re blessed by Whitney Houston or Celine Dion. We’re all vessels of change and we’re all magnifying Jesus to others in one way or another. We’re all conduits of His love whether we know it or not. So as we sit back and listen to Marie’s discography and see God work through the unexpected, let us listen with no expectations. Let us love with no conditions. Let us listen and be slow to speak. The name of Jesus doesn’t need to be uttered for God to move. I know, I know, it’s a heretical thought according to some. But if God can use a talking donkey, then how much more can he use Marie Miller? And furthermore, how much more can He use the writer of one of the most controversial worship songs ever, an extremely young Broadway-style singer and the winner of the best song of the year at this year’s Oscars? A snapshot of blogs to come… and food for thought also!

Some heartfelt and impacting blog posts from Marie Miller:

Call me old-fashioned, but I still write letters. We live in a world where everything is on a screen that contains basically all of reality in digital form, but we are physical persons. We like to hold things, real things, pieces of paper that contain words like, “I’m sorry” or “I love you”, and because they do they can’t be deleted to say something else. These songs are not just songs written in a vacuum that could be for anyone.

These songs are my letters, pieces of paper with real things. How much of art is simply saying something to someone that you just couldn’t say to their face, so instead you just tell the whole world? So………………. I decided to call the new album “Letterbox”!

So, very soon you will have the key to my letterbox for 2011 – 2016. Open with care, and make sure to put all the letters back after reading.

Sorry in advance for the smudges from tears and the red wine stains. These things happen.

Dear World,

Plans. I write down in dark, black ink plans over a bright, pink planner to map out my week like its my own. The true thing is that life often comes and wrecks our perfectly laid out plans. Our stories often twist and turn in directions we hoped we never had to go, down roads that we never chose to walk.

“Maybe grieving over plans is part of the plans to change us.” -Ann Voskamp

I look out my window to the changing colors of a Virginia autumn. Beauty in the changing, Beauty in the falling. Beauty even in the dying.

Warm water rushes over my tired hands. The tiniest gift given, the crack in the ceiling of sorrow.

I’ll make this plan. I’ll unclench my hands from holding on to the gift that wasn’t given and open them wide for the gifts on their way. And maybe I’ll stop worrying about my future and receive the daily bread.

I put on comfy wool socks to cover my cold feet. God is providing.

That was always the plan.

Dear World, 

Dad had a business trip in North Carolina this week, so we took his perfectly clean CRV (as opposed to my less than perfectly clean CRV) and drove down to Burlington together to record the last four songs of my new album. I always feel fifteen when I am driving shot gun with my dad like I should be wearing soccer cleats.

The road to Burlington always begins as one of the most beautiful drives I know. It leads you through Charlottesville, Virginia, a place I love more than most. 

As I looked out my window at the bare and brown world, it looked very similar to when I began this musical journey almost a year ago. I was in a fragile place, tired and worn and afraid and not much of a believer even in my little dream. So I wrote songs through it and hoped that I could make some sense of it all. Maybe I am still trying to make sense of it all. 

But I am learning that the artist and the saint have one thing in common. They can enter into the mystery of suffering and make something beautiful. 

And I think how much more could a Divine Artist make Beauty out of the mess of this suffering world? 

The Divine enters into our unspeakable sadness and creates color and light and music like a host of angels breaking into the cold and the darkness to light an entire sky with best news we have ever heard.

And no matter where I go, Beauty finds me somehow.

So, I can promise you no happily ever after songs in this album (maybe next time!), but I have seen through the asking, the wandering, the suffering Beauty intertwined like a Lover’s embrace.

About Marie’s journey to a deeper faith (listen along to the interview below!):

The deepest part of me is a lover of Jesus. In the way that God does, He has given me the daily bread of what I’ve needed. There’s been investors that have gotten involved and wonderful people, a great team. So, as an independent artist, I feel even stronger, but it took a leap of faith to do that.

I’m learning that the artist and the saint have one thing in common. They can enter into the mystery of suffering and make something beautiful. I was thinking about the idea that when we take broken pieces in our lives, we can make a mosaic out of them and make something beautiful. And I was thinking, ‘Wow, our Lord does that for us.’ He takes our brokenness and makes something beautiful out of it. He takes the most broken thing in the world, the murder of God, and brings out the resurrection. We have to be a remembering people. Our Lord says, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ The thief on the cross says, ‘Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ When we are in dark places, there’s a call to remember that [God] is faithful – and when He was faithful. We [should] go to that place that we were confident and lean on it. The thing is, God doesn’t need us to feel good about Him all the time. He just needs us to trust Him.

My audience is still pretty half-and-half Catholic and non-Catholic, maybe non-believers. So, I perform in theaters and then I’ll perform at a Catholic conference. I’ve always enjoyed both, because I think that beauty is a pursual, like God’s pursual for us, whether or not we know it. It can uplift the soul and bring us closer to God, even if it’s not talking about the Scriptures or rosaries. The reason why I don’t write worship songs – even though I love worship music – the reason why I decided not to do that was because I wanted [my work] to be more of a universal music that someone who would be afraid of walking into a church or listening to a worship song could come to this and find some truth in it.

My hope is that they are encouraged and inspired to live out whatever unique journey that God has created for them. Each of us was made with a special gift inside of us, something that nobody else has. We were made to do something great for each other, and we have that inside of us. So, don’t be afraid to live out your dream. And also to say, God dreams over us. We can’t think, “What I love is probably not what God wants.” What you love is what He’s put in your heart to do. It’s not either-or – like ‘I have to do God’s will’ or ‘I have to have joy.’ Joy is God’s will, even though it can be hard, even though it can be painful. So, I would say, live out your dream. That sounds so Pinteresty, but live out your dream. Do it.

Does Marie Miller make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Glitter Gold”, “Make The Most Of Me”, “The Lonely Ends”, “Little Dreams”, “You’re Not Alone”, “6-2”, “Two To One” and “Stones you Throw”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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