BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — Her face is on billboards, signs and T-shirts all over town. She is being watched by 17 million people twice a week on live television. And, if things fall her way, she could be the next American Idol.
The rise of Angela Miller from unassuming high-schooler to reality show star has thrilled her hometown of Beverly. More than 600 fans turned out last week in the Beverly High School auditorium to watch on a big screen as Miller again advanced to the next round of the singing competition.
The 19-year-old Beverly High graduate is among the final six singers heading into tonight’s show, with one competitor scheduled to be eliminated through viewer voting. Miller was among the top three vote-getters last week and has drawn mostly praise from the judges.
Miller was known as a talented singer at Beverly High School, but there was no indication that she would become such a phenomenon. A little more than a year ago at this time, she was working at Chick-fil-A and playing the role of Miss Dorothy Brown in the high school production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
Miller, however, had faith in her ability. She had placed seventh in the Assemblies of God National Fine Arts Festival in Phoenix in 2011 and received scholarship offers from three Christian colleges, but she turned them down because she knew she wanted to try out for “American Idol.”
“I have always watched ‘American Idol,’ and it’s always been a dream of mine to be on the show,” she said in January after her appearance on the season premiere.
Miller is the daughter of Guy and Tana Miller, co-pastors of the Remix Church in Salem. She has sung at the church and has often cited her faith on her Twitter account, which has more than 88,000 followers.
Miller’s accomplishment is even more remarkable considering the fact that she suffers from 40 percent hearing loss in her left ear and 20 percent in her right. A month before her “American Idol” audition last September, she was fitted with silicon spray ear plugs.
As a top 10 finisher on the show, Miller is already guaranteed a spot on the 2013 “American Idol” tour. As for the rest of her future, her hometown, not to mention millions of other newfound fans, will be watching.