Episode 15 - My Grandpa! Pianist James Miller (Practice Tape circa 1970’s)
Episode 15 of The Ambient Vault is something a little different that I hope you will enjoy. My family and I recently discovered tapes in the attic of my late grandfather, gospel pianist James Miller (1916-1994). These tapes feature my grandfather practicing piano at home and performing gospel hymns and original compositions that have never been heard before. Grandpa James was a sweet man and amazing pianist who tragically died in a car accident in 1994. It was thought that he left no recordings behind, or at least not any that still existed. Imagine our delight at discovering these boxes that had been sitting in the attic for over a quarter of a century filled with reel to reel tapes and cassettes! For our family to hear his music fill the air again after decades of carrying it with us only in our heads and hearts is overwhelming. He was an extraordinary talent and so it is so amazing for us to have these recordings and I wanted to share just one recording with you here of one of his practice sessions. I felt it narrowly fit the definition of ambient due to it’s informal nature and perhaps from a historical perspective as well, but if you’re interested in hearing more please check out the Instagram page I’ve made for him @jamesmillergospelpianist, and as always thanks so much for listening!
James “Jimmy” Miller (1916 – 1994) was an American gospel pianist, vocalist and composer, who from the mid-1930s until the mid-1990s was known among evangelistic ministries for his unique style and impromptu arrangements and performances of hymns and gospel music. In addition to evangelistic ministries he had his own ministry for elderly and shut-ins entitled Sunshine Hymn Time, a weekly radio program where he would sing hymns, original songs and play piano solos. He also visited nursing homes, playing requests on whatever pianos were available.
This recording features my late grandfather playing what we know to be original compositions, as well as some improvisations and a few that we are unsure about that might be covers.