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Daily Inspiration: Meet Molly Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Molly Miller.

Hi Molly, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started playing guitar when I was seven years old. I am the middle child of five. In my memory, suddenly one day the living room was transformed into the band room. I started playing my Dad’s old tele (not a memorable one per se), my older brother on bass, my older sister on keys, my younger sister was three so she was the “dancer/backup singer”, and my younger brother Sammy on drums.

Sammy and I still play all the time. He’s my partner in crime as far as music goes – it’s like blood harmonies. I think we have blood grooves. He saved me during quarantine. We would make music everyday – that kept me sane and helped me to continue to evolve as a musician. My childhood was dominated by playing music with my siblings. We would rehearse all the time and gig around the greater LA area – street fairs, private parties, and other random events. We would pile into the suburban with a bunch of gear. I can’t think of a better way to grow up.

From there, I was playing in garage bands with friends and jazz bands at school. In high school, I started taking music more seriously. I went to USC, where I studied with so many wonderful people like Bruce Forman, who is a mentor to me. I stayed for my Masters and Doctorate in Guitar Performance (yes – they give those out!). Throughout my time getting my music degrees, I was gigging a ton. I was playing with artists and bands, doing “casuals”, starting to tour, and then teaching and studying, as well. It was an intense but great time. I was building my music community and sorting out who I was as a guitarist.

Through an afrobeat/ funk band I played with, The Vibrometers, I got connected to Jason Mraz. I joined his band right after I graduated. During the same time, my trio with Jennifer Condos and Jay Bellerose evolved. This trio has been deeply important to me. It is a huge creative outlet. I have grown so much by being in a band with these legends – they are dear friends and mentors to me. I have been able to develop my voice and writing style in our trio – Molly Miller Trio. We just released a record, St. George, this year. I am so proud of it. Check it out. We are working on our next one now 🙂

I have always worked in music education as well. I find it to be a great balance – and I love it. Music is my passion, so it is a gift to be able to share that with others and be involved in my student’s musical journey. I have been chair of the guitar department at Los Angeles College of Music since 2016. I oversee curriculum, teach classes and develop courses. It’s great fun.

Now I do all those things and more – I do studio work, play for artists, tour, have my own trio, play in my brother’s band (Sammy Miller and the Congregation – go check them out. This band is stupid fun), work for a ton of great guitar companies, and work in music education. I’ve gotten to travel the world, make inspiring music, and work with incredible humans. I feel really lucky. I love it all. The world makes more sense to me when I am playing guitar.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Doing the thing you love is intense – highs are high and lows and real low. I think in this career more so than others, you attach your self-worth to your art. I’ve gotten a lot better at accepting the inevitable roller coaster. I am a freelance guitarist. It’s a gift but inevitably comes with hard moments. No matter what you do, there’s going to be difficult days. I would rather do the thing I love and accept those challenges then something that doesn’t feed me in the way guitar does.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a guitarist. I freelance, do studio work, play for different artists, have my own trio (Molly Miller Trio), and teach guitar (I am the chair of the guitar department at Los Angeles College of Music). I have focused on creating a clear voice when I play. I had a revelation at 25: I stopped trying to sound the way I thought people wanted me to sound and instead played how I wanted to sound. You can hear a blend of different styles in my playing – jazz, soul, country, funk, r’n’b, world music. The songs I write are instrumental songs. The arrangements tell a story. I love playing my guitar more than anything else in the world – I think that’s very clear to people once they see me play. My guitar is my limb. Check out my music. It’s easy to find me through the ole’ internet.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I love my routines. I drink too much delicious ceremonial matcha everyday. Eat more bread and cheese than most Angelenos would approve of. And I’ll kick your butt on the tennis court (I’m no Serena, but it’s fun to pretend).

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Anna Azarov, Robbie Jeffers, Alex Brown, Michi Ohira (artwork for St. George)

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