Abby Miller, a sophomore at Kennett High School, has dreams of being a professional singer and is being proactive in making it happen. Miller, who in December performed as part of Alpenglow at Radio City Music Hall, recently went to the week-long International Presentation of Performers (iPOP) convention in Los Angeles. She joined other kids from all over the world to get the chance to perform in front of agents, casting directors and record labels. At the end of the week she wound up with a manager in New York and is working with a record label in Los Angeles.
What was the process like?
I've been in an agency in Boston for about six months and they are the ones that you audition with to go down [to the convention]. Then they bring in coaches to train you. There's a group of 30 of us and every weekend we travel down to Boston and we just start training and going over monologues and commercials. I had to have two songs to sing on the big stage, so it was a lot of work, but it was worth it.
What were these auditions like?
You could either do acting, singing, modeling, dancing. I did acting and singing. I needed two songs and a minute cut of them so I sang “Cowboy Casanova” and “Somebody to Love.” I also needed a monologue, a commercial, a TV beauty commercial and a scene, so it is a lot of stuff.
You were there for a week, was it intensive?
We didn't get to go outside. The whole convention is in this big hotel. You're just up in your room for maybe 10 minutes and then down doing an audition and then going to practice and then doing another audition or going to watch someone do an audition. Yeah, it is crazy.
When did you get interested in performance?
I started realizing I wanted to sing in second grade, but I really started to make a change in my life about two years ago and that is when we started looking for a place that could help me do that.
When did you get hooked up with Mary Bastoni-Rebmann?
I think it was like two years ago. She's just changed my voice completely. Made me a different singer. I owe it all to her.
What are your hopes with this new manager?
I write my own songs, so singing is my passion. I would do acting to get into singing, but really in the future I'd like to just sing, so with this new guy in L.A. we're recording my songs and making demos to send to bigger labels to get me into a bigger industry. My dream would be to be able to sing my songs on a big stage.
Would you consider moving out to L.A.?
Absolutely. My whole family is for it, not necessarily right now, but eventually. The only one I'd worry about is my little brother because he still goes to school here, so it is kind of a hard thing. But I'd definitely go out there in a heartbeat.
You released a Christmas album, so what was that like?
We worked on this album for two months and I'd go after soccer practices and go down to Madison and we did an eight-song Christmas CD. It was a fund-raiser to get to L.A. It was awesome. It was my first real recording experience. It was a lot of work staring at a little room for three hours a night, but it was really great. It wound up being a good CD and we sold a lot of them.
How have you been balancing singing and all that with school work?
Well, I actually have mid-terms this week, so it is a little bit stressful to try to catch up on tests and learn things before mid-terms, but in the end I want singing to be my career, so I am going to focus on school, but also know what all this is for — singing — so you've got to find a happy medium.
Have you had any encouragement at Kennett? Have you had any teachers that have really been motivational?
I'd say I usually get pretty close with a lot of my teachers. They've all been for it and excited and telling me to not be worried about the work I'm going to miss, but to go and take advantage of this opportunity. I also got a lot of support from peers, which was nice. Like I'll walk down the hallway and hear people yell “Superstar!” so that's fun too. Everyone was really supportive so that was really nice to see.
Are you exploring the social media side of things like putting yourself on YouTube or doing anything like that?
Not yet. We are working on getting my songs copyrighted and then that would be the next step would be putting them out everywhere. We are talking about sending things to the Ellen Degeneres show. I am going to be doing Skype lessons with a vocal coach in L.A., so we are starting to branch out that way, but it is how we want to go about that we aren't really sure of.
When you were out there meeting all these people, seeing all these agents, did you get a lot of positive feedback?
Yeah, it was really nice, especially for my parents to be able to go out and get information that they wondered from actual industry professionals, so that was really cool. To get feedback from your performance, they'd have workshops that you'd go to and you'd sing your song and they'd say, OK, your physicality was good, but you need to work on your face expressions or you need to work this part of the stage more. It is really good to hear from people that do it every day.
Did everyone who went wind up with something?
It is really rare for a whole agency to get a 100 percent call-back rate and ours did, for the second year in a row, which was really cool. It is nice to see that your friends are successful. Usually people don't and that's sad to watch kids who will be crying, but it is all about determination.
Was it encouraging to get that reward?
Yeah, it is always going to be encouraging to hear “Yeah, we think you're good.” You know, it is not just your family that thinks you're good, these strangers are saying “Yeah, we want to work with you and develop you and hopefully get you out there.” It is really encouraging.