SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 26, 2013

Column: Go, Angie!

Mary Alice Cookson
The Salem News

---- — Angela K. Miller is fast becoming a household name here in Beverly and beyond. That’s no surprise. It’s as it should be.

Miller, Beverly’s very own “American Idol” top-20 finalist and graduate of Beverly High School’s music department, is going for her dream. And when people go for their dreams — if they have the talent, drive, dedication and determination to back it up — magic happens. People want magic. They want to see other people going for their dreams and winning. If it can happen for someone else, it can happen for them. It also helps if the person is likable, as Miller certainly is.

I’m one of those idealists who believe in following one’s bliss, doing what you love and actually having it pay off. Forget all the naysayers who say artists should pursue their passions only if they happen to be trust-fund babies. In real life, there are bills to pay. But thanks to shows like “American Idol,” opportunities to realize dreams are available, and dreams — really do! — come true. Granted, not for the majority of artists out there, but for Miller ... well, she’s doing it.

She makes that big, scary idea of “going for it” seem effortless, and she reaps the payoff with humility: “Who me? Really, I’m good?” But the payoff is, I’m sure, proportionately equal to the amount of work she’s investing in herself and her career. None of us can know how hard she’s working or the amount of pressure she’s under.

As if her exquisite, soulful voice with its rich tone and texture; her skillful piano playing; and her natural catlike stage presence weren’t enough, she had the foresight and the confidence to perform her own original song, “You Set Me Free.” And the very gutsy move paid off. She sang that song and knocked it out of the park.

“You Set Me Free” has already received 500,000 views on YouTube. The song was “covered” a few days ago by Talinday, a singer named Dan Toth, who posted his version of Miller’s tune on YouTube. This resulted in Miller thanking him, saying on her Facebook fan page, “Oh my goodness this is CRAZY!!! This guy actually covered my original song! It means so much that he would do this.”

Meanwhile, the “American Idol” judges are comparing Angie to herself, telling her that they doubt any performance she does of another song can compare to the performance she already gave featuring her own original number. After that, no matter how flawlessly she performed Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect,” all the judges could talk about was “You Set Me Free.” Keith Urban, who teared up with he heard it, said if the song were made, he’d listen to it on the radio in his car. Yes, a lot of us would listen to it — and we will some day!

Like Shakespeare said, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Tune in to “American Idol” (Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox), and watch the lovely Angie Miller doing just that.

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Mary Alice Cookson is a Beverly-based columnist and a Beverly Music and Performing Arts Association board member. She welcomes comments at mcookson29@gmail.com.