There is always a Nashville connection.
On this week’s episode of NBC’s This Is Us (titled “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life”) the voice carrying the song “Beauty And Pain” belongs to Nashville singer-songwriter Hannah Miller.
The song marks Miller’s second time recording a song that was included in the hit NBC series. Her acoustic rendition of the song “We Can Always Come Back To This” was included in Season 1’s powerful and pivotal episode “Memphis,” which centers on Randall Pearson (played by Sterling K Brown), the death of his biological father William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones), and Randall’s relationship with Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia), who adopted Randall at birth.
The song was penned by This Is Us composer Siddhartha Khosla and Chris Pierce. While a full-band version of “We Can Always Come Back To This” can be heard earlier in the “Memphis” episode, Pierce and Khosla sought a softer, female acoustic version to close out the episode.
“For ‘We Can Always Come Back To This,’ it was such a monumental episode and scene, and I was so thankful that it really worked,” Miller tells MusicRow. “That was one of the highlights of all of last year. I love the whole world of licensing and TV because music can bring so much emotion to a scene, but without the scene, the music doesn’t mean as much.”
Miller’s vocal placements came about through music licensing company Sorted Noise, and its Los Angeles partner Music Alternative.
“I had no context going into the show, we just got the song, the chart and a music video from the people who wrote the song. I filtered it through my style. Even with ‘We Can Always Come Back To This,’ I didn’t understand the song, really, until I saw it in the scene, and I could see how it was written to fit perfectly in that scene.
“I found out after the fact that several people had submitted acoustic demos and the composer actually called me the day after the episode aired and said, ‘When we heard yours, we knew it was the right one.’”
This week’s episode centered on the background of a newer character, a teenage girl named Deja, the foster child of Randall Pearson and wife Beth.
“The cool thing is I had seen every episode. I knew the story and what was going on, and it was so important to me that [the song] meant something and was special within the show. I didn’t want to distract or take away anything from the show. I just wanted to add. I had had placements over the years and I would sit down and watch the shows because my song was in it, but I had no real relationship to the show at all. Part of the reason I was so excited to do this was because I found out it was for This Is Us. I was like, ‘Yes, I’m going to do this no matter what!’”
Even with having songs featured in the episodes, Miller says she first saw the finished episodes when they aired on NBC, like everyone else. “It was so nerve-wracking. We got a little bit of information for this [latest] one. We knew the episode would be about Randall [Pearson] and Deja, the foster child they had taken in.”
Miller has plenty to celebrate this week, as her own latest album, Midnight Morning, released on Tuesday (March 6) via Sorted Noise Records. Eight of the 10 songs were produced by Jars of Clay member Charlie Lowell, and the album was recorded at Gray Matter studio.
“Sorted Noise paired Charlie and I together during a songwriting workshop for film and television and we liked what we did so much that I asked him to work on the whole album.”
The 10-track album also includes an updated version of “We Can Always Come Back To This.” Miller says she hopes for future songs to be included in the hit TV show. Miller recently traveled to Los Angeles to perform her rendition of the song for the Guild of Music Supervisors Awards, where the song was nominated for Best Song Recording Created For Television.
“My dream is for This Is Us to use one of my original songs, but I’m not complaining and I’ll record whatever song they want.” Miller says.
We’ll never lose these memories.
— This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) March 8, 2018
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