BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — In some ways, she’s still ‘our’ Angie.
Angie Miller has been home in Beverly since Sept. 14. You might spot her around town at Starbucks, or at the high school visiting with friends and teachers, or even singing the national anthem at the Momball softball tournament across the street from her house at Harry Ball Field.
But while the hometown girl who rose to fame on “American Idol” knows she can always return home and be a self-described “couch potato” for a few weeks, she’s about to embark on the next step in what she and her fans hope will be a successful music career.
Miller, who will perform at Topsfield Fair tomorrow night, plans to move to Los Angeles in January to continue writing songs and, hopefully, sign a recording contract.
“I don’t know when it will happen,” she said of a possible record deal. “I hope it will be soon.”
Until recently, Miller’s fame has all been associated with “American Idol,” the show where she first displayed her singing and songwriting talents just months after graduating from Beverly High School.
When the show ended, Miller and the other top Idol performers went on a two-month concert tour across the country. The tour ended Aug. 31, and Miller said her upcoming performance at Topsfield Fair is “the real start of my career.”
“I can’t wait,” she said. “‘Idol’ is over. This is where it starts. It feels like it’s the first show that’s 100 percent mine.”
Miller, 19, said she is moving to Los Angeles to be closer to the kind of professional songwriters she has been working with since signing a contract with Universal Music Publishing Group.
Miller has written songs in Los Angeles and in Nashville with Red Decibel, three songwriters who have written for Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers, among others.
Miller said it took time to adjust to a team approach to songwriting, especially with people she had never met.
“The best way to describe it is like a blind date,” she said. “When I wrote ‘Set Me Free,’ that was just me at a piano by myself. The first time I’d ever written with other people was back in June before the tour. I had two weeks of everyday writing with different people. You meet them and say hi, and then you pour your life out with them.
“I really love the writing process. I found writers I really connect with and really love. Songwriting is an incredible process. It’s so vulnerable, and you really pick your brain apart.”
Miller said she has written five songs with Red Decibel and is convinced at least one of them will get recorded.
“I have a great body of work right now that I’m really proud of,” she said. “We’re shopping it to labels. Hopefully, a label will love it as much as I do.”
Miller said she’s not so much concerned about when she will sign with a recording label as making sure she finds a company that won’t try to change her style.
“I just hope whoever I sign with gets my vision and doesn’t want to change my vision at all, that they really understand who I am,” she said. “I don’t want somebody to say, ‘You have to do more pop,’ or ‘You have to do more this.’ My management (Los Angeles-based 19 Entertainment) really loves my vision and really understands me, and I just hope my label does the same.”
Miller said she is adjusting to her fame and the accompanying lack of privacy, which can be particularly acute in her hometown.
“For months, there were posters and billboards (of her) and stuff everywhere,” she said. “In Beverly, it’s unreal the amount of people that will just stop me and say hi and take a picture. It’s not difficult, but it definitely can get tiring, just because I can’t just walk out of the house. I say to myself, ‘Dang, I have to do my hair, I have to put my makeup on,’ because you never know when somebody’s going to take your picture. You have to be careful.”
Miller has learned that even wearing her hair in a ponytail, as she did for a couple of days last week, can attract notice.
“Not to this scale, but it’s like when Miley Cyrus cut off her hair,” she said. “It’s funny how with those little things people go nuts.”
After the Topsfield Fair, Miller is scheduled to perform at Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s charity event on Oct. 19 in Weston and at the ABCD Awards Gala on Nov. 1 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel.
She will also serve as spokesperson for the New England Walk4Hearing on Oct. 27 in Boston.
In January, she will move to Los Angeles with her best friend from high school, Lydia Hester.
“My parents are supportive of me moving out there to LA,” she said. “Of course, they’re sad, too.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.