The talented performer, Mitch Miller, on being back in Brum, touring with Blue, that petrifying audition on The Voice and inspiring the next generation
You probably recognise Mitch Miller from his successful stint on The Voice in 2015 on team Rita Ora where he impressed audiences with his swing-inspired performances which led to West End shows and some very swanky corporate gigs. Now back in his home-town passing on his performing wisdom to youngsters at Cadbury Sixth Form College, we caught up with Mitch.
With a song-writing father and music a constant at home, Mitch was immersed from birth and says: “Sadly I was one of those kids always performing! I vaguely remember a Grease number at primary school.” King’s Norton Primary School was the one, but it was at secondary school where he really found his groove although it wasn’t always appreciated by his peers.
Mitch recalls: “I got picked on a lot. Singing wasn’t cool. There was a ‘God, how embarrassing’ sort of attitude, but I did it anyway.” At the same time Mitch was performing with a City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra choir and sang at the Commonwealth Games and for the Queen at Symphony Hall among other high-profile events. Further down the line at drama school tutors would say they could tell Mitch had a classical training. “The funny thing is I hadn’t had any classical training other than the sessions with the choir at the CBSO.”
THE REAL VOICE
Sixth form with a particularly inspiring drama teacher cemented Mitch’s love of performing and led him to the well-regarded Mountview Academy Drama school in London where he specialised in musical theatre. This grounding made Mitch think the audition for The Voice would be fine, but actually it was ‘petrifying’.
The thing the viewer doesn’t know about The Voice is that the auditionees go through months of vocal coaching before the first televised audition, so the programme makers have already invested a lot in each of the hopefuls. Mitch’s vocal coach was Mark De-Lisser who was director of the Royal Wedding Choir and pretty high profile.
Mitch says: “Even if you don’t get very far you’ve already had access to amazing training and learned quite a lot.” The preparation didn’t squash the nerves of the chair-turning audition though. “The fear is that no one turns around. I arrived up with my family at 6am and my audition was at 11.30pm which built the anxiety.” He needn’t have worried. Mitch joined Rita Ora’s team and had a ‘fabulous’ experience that definitely opened doors.
A role in Godspell on the West End has been one of the highlights as well as Westside Story and Rent and his fee has certainly benefited. There’ve been some high-profile events that have been slightly bizarre. At a ‘posh cricket match’ where Mitch was performing he was sat between Nigel Farage and one of Princess Diana’s cousins, which he says was surreal.
There’ve been other surreal moments along the way like performing at Party in the Park and supporting the likes of Blue and Liberty X before the TV stuff happened. Mitch says: “I don’t really know how that came about. I used to record the demos of dad’s songs with a friend and it just snowballed from there. Party in the Park was the first time I’d really sung on my own and it was in front of 30,000 people. I might as well have been sponsored by Reebok. It was Nineties and I was head to toe!”
After a spell in London Mitch moved back to Birmingham with his husband largely to start a family and he’s loving being back. Now with twins, Mitch’s role as a tutor in performing arts means he has a solid base for the children while inspiring young people and still performing outside college hours. “I’ve always taught between jobs as lots of performers do, but this is different. Generally, I’ve taught in drama schools where the students know exactly what they want to do and believe they will get there. Here, every kid is so different. There’s a lot of raw talent and they really don’t know how good they are. This is my passion and seeing the next generation of performers cut their teeth means the world. It doesn’t seem too long ago since I was doing the same.”