The 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Rochester Hills made it to the finals of “America’s Got Talent,” recorded songs for Olympians and has her sights on a Grammy.
By Karleigh M. Stone
It’s a gift to discover your passion at a young age. It’s even better when that passion is filled with talent and becomes a career. Singer-songwriter Olivia Millerschin, 22, of Rochester Hills, loves to create and perform music, and she’s making it her job.
“Two years ago, I was home for 12 days out of seven months. I tour pretty much constantly,” Millerschin says. “When I’m not on the road, I’m writing music.”
Her thirst for her work has already paid off with different opportunities and accolades, including making it to the finals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” She’s also won two John Lennon Songwriting Awards and the 2017 Great American Song Contest, and she has placed as a finalist at both the LA Music Critic Awards and Detroit Music Awards.
Her accomplishments may very well propel her toward her goal of winning a Grammy within the next five years. She’s working on new music and has big dreams for it.
“I’m really hoping to continue to do what I do now, but on a bigger scale,” she says. “A year from now I’d like to be on a national headlining tour.”
Millerschin recently finished a coast-to-coast tour, rocking the east coast in March and playing out west in May. The tour was intimate and acoustic, featuring Millerschin and her guitarist Bryan Reilly. It highlighted songs from her latest record “Look Both Ways,” which debuted in September 2016.
“The record’s theme is seeing every side to a story and seeing some hope in a seemingly dark place,” she says.
The tracks explore Millerschin’s quest to “look both ways” as she continues to conquer the music industry. She explains she needs to proceed with caution to “protect her sense of self.”
Reilly, 31, of Ferndale, met Millerschin eight years ago at Harmonie Park Studios in Detroit, where he produced her first EP and became her guitarist soon after. “She is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met in the music business and, so far, has managed the business side all by herself,” he says. “All of her success is due to hard work and her continuous drive to be better.”
Inspired by her grandmother, the folk artist got her start at 13. “My grandma studied opera,” Millerschin says. “Originally, I wanted to be like her, so I started studying opera and classical voice, and slowly, it turned into me wanting to write my own stuff.”
Musically versatile, she can play the guitar, piano, ukulele, banjo and mandolin. She incorporates elements from the artists she grew up listening to such as Paul Simon, Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and more recently from jazz artists such as Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney.
Millerschin puts her creative juices to the test by writing all her own songs, something she hopes to undertake for other artists in the future.
“She can write songs that will make you feel good and laugh, then switch it up completely and make you cry,” Reilly says. “She has a great ear for song structure, unique and original melodies and harmony.”
In 2014, Millerschin competed on “America’s Got Talent,” an experience that shaped “Look Both Ways” and influenced her growth as a musician.
“Coming off of it, I felt like I had a lot to say about people and music and the industry,” she says. “I’ve always been kind of naïve and soft, and it forced me to grow a backbone and decide what I’m willing to put up with. It was great exposure, but it was also a lot of people telling you what to sing, what to say and what to do. If you already have something in your mind of what you want to be, then it can be frustrating.”
More recently, Millerschin recorded a song for Mitch Albom’s book “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” and recorded a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” for Michigan ice dancers Evan Bates and Madison Chock’s free dance program at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Sonia Lee, 46, of Troy, an accomplished violinist and Millerschin’s mentor, composed “Imagine” for Bates and Chock. When they needed vocals, Lee knew whom to turn to.
“Her mother asked if I could play on her first song when she was 13. I was so excited because she was gifted and talented at such a young age,” Lee says. “As her career started blossoming, I never forgot about her.”
Lee’s praise for the young artist is impressive, given she’s a Julliard graduate who played six seasons in the Toronto Symphony and with Paul McCartney, Michael Bublé, Diana Ross and other acclaimed artists.
“She has a timeless voice that captivates the listener. She has a sense of artistry you don’t see in young people these days — an old soul with a young, fresh face,” Lee says.
Though she exudes independence in her blossoming career, Millerschin credits her support system, which includes her boyfriend of six years, who plays trombone in her band, and her parents.
“I don’t know how I would do it,” she says, “if I didn’t have all the people that I have.”
- Sonic Lunch Series with JD McPherson June 21. More details here.
- The Whitney-Detroit Concert Series July 19. More details here.