Montoursville native enjoys touring with Rod Stewart’s band
Singing the vocal solo at the end of Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” in front of 60,000 screaming music fans would undoubtedly stir up some anxiety for the average person. For Montoursville native Amanda Miller, it’s just another day on the job.
Miller, a back-up vocalist in Stewart’s band, has performed with the legend in more than 60 cities and 15 countries over the last year and a half. In just a few weeks, she will be back on tour with him in the United States, where Stewart has shows lined up in Minneapolis and Las Vegas.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling recognizing you’re performing next to an iconic rock star,” Miller said. “Everyone loves him.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to perform and travel,” she added. “So, the fact that I’m able to do both is pretty remarkable, and something I could never take for granted.”
Having learned to sing at the young age of 10, Miller enjoyed her first touring experience in the Broadway musical “Oliver” when she was just a child, and further honed her performance skills as a student with the Uptown Music Collective. After graduating from Montoursville Area High School in 2010, she studied opera training privately in New York City.
“I’ve always loved singing along with dancing from a very young age, which is why I’ve primarily focused on musical theater most of my career — I get the best of both worlds,” Miller said. “People probably wouldn’t realize it, but as an ensemble member in a musical you’re doing a ton of background work vocally and physically.”
Miller heard about the opening in Stewart’s band from a friend that she had previously worked with in a Las Vegas production of “Rock of Ages,” who was leaving the tour to pursue a show on Broadway. After impressing Stewart’s team with her resume, performance videos and social media presence, Miller was flown to Vancouver for an audition with a few other performers. At that audition, each of the girls were required to learn choreography and songs on the spot, which they would later perform in front of Stewart himself.
Once the potential hires were narrowed down at the Vancouver audition, Miller had to send in one last performance tape for review. She got the call to join Stewart’s team about a week after that.
After earning the job, Miller was required to learn the back-up vocals for 60 songs in just a month’s time. She was then flown to Los Angeles to learn the accompanying choreography over the course of another two weeks. Once that was over, she spent three days rehearsing with Stewart and the rest of the band before heading out on tour.
“I was fortunate to be a part of large productions in the past to help prep for this, but I don’t think any musical or short-term gigs could compare to the multi-million dollar production that he’s put together,” Miller said.
“I am pretty sure I blacked out during my first performance with Rod,” she added, with a laugh. “It was overwhelming and my adrenaline was pretty intense. But there wasn’t a second that I wasn’t smiling and feeling eternally grateful.”
Miller mentioned that typically Stewart’s shows range anywhere from 20 to 26 songs deep. She added that the audience’s song preferences often vary depending on where they are playing.
“The U.S. crowds tend to love ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ and ‘Forever Young,’ which are both brilliant,” Miller said. “In Europe, they enjoy ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It’ and ‘Sailing’ the most.
“I would say my top two are ‘Forever Young’ and ‘Sailing,'” she added.
Saying that Stewart is “an absolute joy to work for,” Miller also mentioned that the singer loves goofing around with those in the band. That helps keep the atmosphere light and fun while they are on tour together.
“Seriously, he’s top notch at pulling pranks and my shoes go missing at least two times a week during soundcheck,” said Miller.
Stewart currently has two other back-up singers in addition to Miller. Occasionally, each of their duties extend beyond just singing.
“The whole band is so versatile that everyone is doing a little bit of singing and extra instruments along the way,” Miller said.
When out on tour, most of Miller’s time is consumed in the bus traveling from city to city. She said that exercising and eating right are very important to her when she’s on the road, because she wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She spends most of her off days exploring whatever city they happen to be in. Her work days are dedicated to self-care rituals, like vocal warm-ups, stretching and meditation.
“We always do a soundcheck and have dinner at the venue — then, the madness begins,” she said.
One of the best things about being out on tour with Stewart, according to Miller, is that he is a family man that treats his band like family as well. It’s also nice that everyone in the group has great chemistry together.
“We are working so closely with one another, so it is really a blessing all of us get along so well,” she said. “We tend to do lots of band dinners on days off and hanging out after the show. It’s always a great time.”
Miller said she plans on staying in Stewart’s band until he retires, which, luckily, he has no plans of doing anytime soon. She also just re-choreographed his global tour, which has her interested in pursuing more choreography projects as well.
“I grew up in a household listening to rock ‘n’ roll all the time, and Rod Stewart was definitely at the top of my Dad’s playlist,” Miller said. “I have to tell you, it’s the weirdest thing getting the opportunity to perform next to someone so iconic and someone you have looked up to for so many years.”