Singer-songwriter Jacob Miller, 22, recently appeared on the Voice of America's live music show "Border Crossings" to talk about his debut album, "Who We Are." VOA's Mary Morningstar has this report.
Jacob Miller wrote "Luck Of The Draw" after seeing 2002 news reports about more than 200 Haitians whose boat ran aground near the Florida coast. The Haitians swam to shore and ran onto a major highway leading to Miami, where they hoped to immigrate.
Jacob grew up in Miami surrounded by music. His parents' home had a room with a piano, guitar, harmonica, and other instruments that fascinated him at an early age. After graduating from Miami's New World School of the Arts, Jacob studied at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Miller's songs are inspired by world events, as well as his own personal relationships and experiences. Jacob says his debut album, Who We Are, contains songs with universal themes that connect people.
"It didn't have a concept when we went into it [the album]. But I think because a writer's work is sort of a culmination of their experiences, their style comes from that. It sort of took a shape, and had an underlying theme, which was the human condition and just people, because that's just what I'm looking at currently, and what I'm trying to be aware of."
Jacob wrote all 12 songs on Who We Are. When asked if he prefers performing or writing songs, Jacob says:
"People have asked me do I consider myself more of a musician or more of a writer? I've always felt that musicians obsess about music and writers obsess about writing," he said. "I sort of just think of myself as a romantic because I just obsess about ideals. Songwriting, singing, music is just an avenue for me to obsess about ideals."
Jacob says Miami's cultural diversity influenced his sound, which combines elements of pop, rock, reggae and Latin music. His biggest musical influences include Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Miles Davis and Leonard Cohen.
Jacob has performed in several European countries and hopes to take his music to more parts of the world.
"I'm definitely a travel junkie," he said. "I love seeing new things, seeing the differences but also seeing the similarities. You go to a foreign place that you had this idea of what it was going to be like, then you realize that it's actually real people. It's actually reality over there. It's not just some concept that you dreamed about."