Web Extra! Hear Alice Miller’s Christmas songs
Alice Miller, an 82-year-old musician, composer and resident at the Oak Park Arms, had one simple Christmas wish this year. She wanted to hear her music on the radio.
“I just thought we needed some new Christmas songs,” Miller said. “We always hear the same songs every year. Why not hear mine just this once?”
Lee Brooke, a longtime family friend, had previously helped Miller to publish her musical compositions in book form. When his good friend came to him with her Christmas wish, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“I was pretty surprised,” Brooke said. “I was thinking, ‘You’re 82, your health is questionable, and you want to try and accomplish this now?'”
Not that Brooke was about to let those little details get in the way of lending a hand. She had the talent necessary to get her wish, but she lacked the means.
Miller, a lifetime Oak Parker, has been a musician and composer since the age of 7 when her mother encouraged her to study the piano with Geneva Robinson, a private teacher in the neighborhood at the time.
“I didn’t want to do it at first, but my mother made me anyway!” Miller recalls. “Once I started learning to play, I realized I didn’t know what I had been missing. My parents didn’t even need to remind me to practice.”
After graduating from OPRF High School, Miller accepted a scholarship at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, New York, where she worked hard honing her skills at the keyboard. She has composed over 100 songs since.
“When Alice had an idea, or was happy, sad or frightened, she would write a song,” Brooke said.
Alice Miller’s original compositions include collaborations with her sister, Nancy Miller, who wrote the lyrics to the four Christmas songs Alice so dearly wished to hear on the radio.
That’s when Brooke stepped in to help. He took Miller’s sheet music and set out in search of a recording studio. With little money at his disposal he secured a recording session with Stuart Leitch, owner and studio engineer of Overtones, a local recording studio. They recorded four of Alice’s songs with Leitch playing the piano parts and the soprano voice of Elaine Pierce singing Nancy’s lyrics.
“They wanted Alice’s music to sound perfect,” Brooke said. “They must have recorded the songs 6-8 times.”
The CD was completed and released in June of this year, and proceeds from the sales have allowed Brooke to recompense the money that was invested. Oak Park Arms Marketing Director Jill Wagner took over from there, using her media contacts to find a willing radio station.
This past Saturday, Alice Miller finally got her wish. On Dec. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m., Alice Miller’s songs were broadcast on the College of DuPage Radio station, WDCB 90.0 FM.
“I was so thrilled when I found out my music would be on the radio,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Lee’s help.
“I have two radios here in my apartment. I hope at least one of them works.”