Biography of Adam Miller
Folksinger, Storyteller and Autoharp Virtuoso
One of the premier autoharpists in the world, Adam Miller is a renowned American folksinger and natural-born storyteller. Miller accompanies his rich, resonant baritone voice with lively finger-picking acoustic guitar and stunningly beautiful autoharp melodies. A masterful entertainer who never fails to get his audience singing along, he has distinguished himself as one of the great interpreters of American folksongs and folktales, and as a performer who appeals to audiences of all ages.
George Winston calls him “one of the great autoharpists and folksingers of our times.” Pete Seeger praised his “wonderful storytelling!” The Walnut Valley Festival described his performance as, “An outstanding slice of American folksongs performed with his perfectly suited voice and tasty autoharp accompaniment.” As a concert promoter in Melbourne Beach, Florida, observed, “It will charm even the most die-hard iPod-loving kids or reluctant significant-others.”
The California Bluegrass Association’s Bluegrass Breakdown wrote, “Adam’s voice and autoharp weave a melodious tapestry.” The Ketchikan, Alaska Sitnews said his show was “Impressively educational but also alluringly entertaining – delighting both young and old alike.” The Syracuse News Times called his performance “mesmerizing!” The San Francisco folknik described his autoharp playing as “superb and imaginative.” Maine Public Radio says he’s “a master of the autoharp.” The Grand Traverse Insider calls him “a National Treasure.”
Adam Miller began his lifelong pursuit of collecting old songs while still in grade school. Armed with an audio-graphic memory and an uncommonly good ear for melody, his childhood ambition was to learn every song he heard. An accomplished folklorist, historian, and song-collector, he has now amassed a remarkable repertoire of over 5,000 songs.
In a contemporary musical landscape peopled with singer-songwriters and their often short-lived offerings, Miller’s time-honored traditional folksongs and ballads are a breath of fresh air. Folksinger Sam Hinton praised his “impeccable taste” in selecting the right songs to sing with the right audience. Miller’s repertoire evokes a by-gone time when entertainment was homemade. A master of the art of storytelling, he skillfully interweaves folksongs and the stories behind them with the elegance of a documentary filmmaker. “As educational and informative as he is entertaining, Adam Miller holds his audience spellbound without a lot of trappings,” noted a commentator in Kansas. “It’s just him, his autoharp and guitar, and his signature Panama hat.”
Traveling 70,000 miles a year, this 21st-century troubadour performs over 200 concerts annually, from the Everglades to the Arctic Circle. Over 1.5 million American K-12 students have attended his Singing Through History! school assembly programs. He has performed in over 2,000 American public libraries in 48 states.
A performer who enlightens as well as entertains, he points out fascinating connections between events in history and the songs that survived them. And like radio’s Paul Harvey, he manages to give you “the rest of the story” — providing the often surprising provenance of seemingly innocuous folksongs. “I have always had a great interest in how folksongs travel through history, and how history travels through folksongs,” says Miller.
He has recorded six CDs that receive airplay across North America and Europe. His numerous appearances at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival, the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival, the Tumbleweed Music Festival, the California Traditional Music Society’s Summer Solstice Festival, and the Kentucky Music Weekend have made him a national favorite.
Miller’s folksongs and ballads are the songs of America’s heritage: a window into the soul of our nation in its youth. Immersed in the Oral Tradition, Miller is mostly self-taught, and learns just about everything by ear. Throughout his long career, he has documented and kept alive the thousands of songs and stories he has collected in his travels. Some of these forgotten songs, like “The Frog Song,” are so obscure that no one else sings them anymore. Frank Hamilton, co-founder of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and former member of the folk quartet The Weavers says, “His performance is truly entertaining and riveting. He’s doing a real service for folk music: defending the Treasury of American Tradition.”