Paula Miller, a classical musician turned professor of writing and rhetoric, finds the intersection of her two loves in songwriting. Formerly a singer and guitarist in The Barefoot Strings, Seeking Celia, No Relation, and The Jared Lees Band, Paula is currently creating porch music with other word-nerdy academics along the blues trail in Oxford, Mississippi.
Paula was one half of the folk duo The Barefoot Strings with my friend Mike Boyd.
I was staying with Mike and his family in Ohio when he asked me what else I needed to do to finish my song “All Is Sideways.” I told him that it was complete except for an operatic female vocal part I was imagining and I didn’t have any idea who could do such a thing. He smiled and told me that his friend Paula, the folk singer in his band, studied opera. He said he could arrange for her to come by and asked if he should go ahead with it. I said yes, but didn’t know what to expect, having never met her or heard her singing in her operatic voice before.
The next day I was setting up in his basement when Paula came down the stairs. We said our hellos and she asked what she was supposed to do. I explained (very poorly, using none of the words that opera singers use to describe their craft) what I was looking for. I didn’t have sheet music for her, so I told her just to sing what she heard. “Show me what you got,” I said to her.
Nervously, I pressed record and out came this haunting voice. I got the chills. Paula had sung exactly what I was hoping for. She nailed the part on the first take. We did a second take — just in case — but it wasn’t necessary. In a single pass she completed the title track to my album All Is Sideways. Thank you, Paula!
Scott’s devotion for his craft is undeniable, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a dynamic, and passionate musician.