BY MIKE CHAIKEN
As soon as Jenny Leigh Miller graduated Milford’s Foran High School, she was off to join the military.
The now 27-year-old Milford, Conn. resident didn’t consider serving her country a whim. Miller, a country singer, was following a family tradition.
“I had always wanted to serve even as a child,” Miller said in an email interview. “I grew up in a constitutionalist ideology environment. Both my parents were public servants; my father was a first responder and my mother was a teacher. My grandfathers and uncles also served in the Marines and Army.”
Although Miller could have taken another path, she felt this was the right one.
“Some people just have that calling; it’s just always been in my blood to serve,” she said. “I didn’t want to just chase selfish ambitions; instead I wanted to experience honor and duty.”
Released in time for Veterans Day, Miller recently wrote the single “God and Country.” The track would not have been possible without the tradition established in her family and her own experience as a member of the military, she explained.
“I wrote ‘God and Country’ because I wanted to write about my experience serving; it made such a huge impact on my life,” Miller said. “A great deal of patriotism has been revived in our country and I wanted to reflect on that.
“This year has been tumultuous for everyone and I wanted to release something to unify people and uplift spirits.”
In the song, Miller sings, “I broke my daddy’s heart/ When I went to war/ His little girl was strong/ But this is not what he asked for/ And I’m nothing compared to those who died/ Those who gave all, who gave their lives.”
“God and Country” began to take shape when Miller came up with a melody for the chorus.
“The lyrics just flew right out,” she said. “Sometimes songwriting is that easy, but not always the case, of course.”
Although the song came quickly once she began in earnest, Miller said there had been plenty of rumination on its topic before she finally moved conception to reality.
“I had shelved it for a while thinking it may be too self-reflective,” she said. “But my husband encouraged me to resurrect it — telling me it is the best song I have ever written.”
Writing the song, Miller said, “I wanted to give a voice to veterans. I grew weary of people always asking me, ‘Why did you do it? What would compel you to serve?’
“A lot of people cannot fathom giving up their daily needs to sacrifice themselves for their country. It’s because of this, I feel veterans have become misunderstood.”
The singer hopes that by listening to the tracks, audiences would understand “it is a personal thing to choose to serve your country and it’s characteristic of people who serve to have great faith, love of country and their family.”
There was also a tale Miller was telling herself through “God and Country.”
“I think I was expressing my authentic journey of serving my country as a young 18-year-old kid. Now being a grown woman, I reflect on that experience,” she said.
Miller’s stint in the military actually set the stage for her transition toward music.
Growing up, Miller said, “I knew I could sing but didn’t get serious about pursuing music as a career until my early 20s.”
“I started playing the guitar while I was deployed in the Middle East. My father shipped a Takamine acoustic guitar to me and I played until my fingers didn’t hurt anymore,” said Miller.
However, despite her burgeoning love for music, Miller said, “I just thought it was a crazy dream to chase with low odds, even though everyone in my hometown encouraged me to pursue it.”
Family, once again, figured into Miller’s decision to focus her career on the genre of country music.
“As a child, my mother played a ton of Randy Travis tunes and my father listened to Patsy Cline and James Taylor,” Miller said. “When my friends in the military noticed I had a twang when I sang, that’s when I found my way into the country music genre as a good fit.”
Having music in her life has been a blessing. “Without music, I would be very dull,” the veteran said.
Additionally, Miller explained, “It is healing to sing and to express one’s self through songwriting. Music is the medium between the human world and the world of spirit. I feel so connected to myself and to source when I am singing, performing or writing music. I believe it is my destiny.”
Like many musicians across Connecticut, COVID-19 has put a damper on Miller’s ability to perform live. During the warmer months, she had a few outdoor gigs. But as the weather cools in New England, these are not feasible.
“We have been very cautious about booking shows and have rescheduled a bunch for next year,” Miller said.
As for the other items on her career agenda, Miller said she plans to release a few more singles and music videos to accompany them.
Then, with the help of a European management agency, Miller hopes, she will tour the U.K. once the pandemic is over.