The moment the artist then known as Angela Miller stepped in front of the American Idol cameras, it was evident there was something about the 18-year old vocalist that made all four judges stand up and take notice.
Who knew what to expect from a singer who revealed to Mariah Carey that she had auditory problems all of her life, with 40 percent hearing loss in her left ear and 20 percent in her right? Carey was curious how this would affect Miller’s singing, asking "is it more difficult because of this?"
Miller has explained that each time she sings, the monitors have to be blaring because she "can’t hear the music." She then wowed the panel with a soulful version of “Mamma Knows Best,” by her favorite singer, Jessie J. Carey was mostly impressed with Miller’s tone, while Nicki Minaj said Miller managed to make her feel "something in her soul" with her vocal choices.
To her credit, Miller has never once used her condition as an excuse for the very few times she had an off moment on stage, instead focusing on what really matters: the music. And boy, has she delivered.
Who could have predicted from that first audition she would blow everyone away as soon as she did in Hollywood Week? America first had an inkling of what Miller could do so early on, as she sat behind the piano and delivered the strongest performance of her original song, "You Set Me Free." As soon as the next day, the track went viral, with people full-on ready to download it into their iPods.
She astounded again later in the competition on another piano ballad: "You Are," by season 10 favorite Colton Dixon. The performance drew raves from Dixon, who tweeted he was "speechless" after watching her take on his music.
The chills continued, as Miller, clearly shaken by the tragic bombing of the Boston Marathon, dedicated "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders to her hometown. It was one of several sterling moments in a season that should end with Miller dancing in confetti.
Yes, it’s true -- behind the piano, Miller is a force to be reckoned with, and anyone who has seen Alicia Keys, Elton John or Billy Joel in concert know just how good a show like that can be. Can you just imagine how awesome her set is going to be on the Idol tour this summer? It will be like watching Colton again -- and if you went to the tour last year, you know how wonderful that was!
Miller has since earned the respect of notable idols Constantine Maroulis, Stefano Langone and Adam Lambert, who early on leant his support with a simple tweet: "Angie Miller." Lambert continued his Twitter support on April 24 with the following accolades: Just watched @AmericanIdol having missed the past 5-6 weeks... And the girls are good, but @AngieAI12 gives me chills when she sings #star.
Miller is being all but anointed by the Idol Gods on the finale, as she will be teamed with Lambert on an as-yet unnamed duet.
Which isn’t to say Miller hasn’t had a few missteps in her journey. A misguided decision to show "another side of Angie" during Motown week with the upbeat ditty, "Shop Around" earned collective groans at the judging table. However, weeks like those have been few and far between.
It also needs to be said: an Idol who is also a musician capable of writing her own music is never a bad thing! Many seem to think that Miller, whose parents are pastors, is primed to make a Christian record, but clearly she has other goals in mind. She could do it. She has a tone that is perfect for major market radio, movie soundtracks and -- if she wants to try it -- theater.
Finally, Miller is the most marketable of the three, with a poised, pretty persona and all-around cheerfulness that will go far in years to come as she continues as an ambassador of the show. She already demonstrated this side of her as she embraced the young patients at Children's Specialized Hospital. That wasn't an act. Miller's heart shows on her sleeve and in her music- she's the kind of artist that parents would be proud to proclaim as their child's favorite singer.
What do you think? Does Angie have what it takes to be the next American Idol champion?