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'American Idol' Alum Angie Miller on Her Early Christmas Present, Advice From Adam Lambert

The season 12 finalist talks to THR about her new single, touring with Michael W. Smith and the words of wisdom offered by a fellow "Idol" favorite.

Angie Miller Live 2013 P
Courtesy of Angie Miller

American Idol season 12 finalist Angie Miller was home in Boston when she got an early Christmas present: an offer to tour with Christian music star Michael W. Smith.

"I sang his songs growing up,” the 19-year old Beverly, Massachusetts native exclaims in recalling the initial offer from her manager. But while she didn’t hesitate in accepting the invitation to join Smiths's annual Celebrate Christmas tour, there was one thing on her mind.

“The only [original] song I had was 'You Set Me Free,' and I really wished I had some new music to play,” she says. But fortune smiled on the teen late in November when the singer was invited to fly out to Los Angeles and produce a Christmas song with the writing team Red Decibel. In less than 24 hours, Miller joined writers Adam Watts and Gannin Arnold in their studio, and emerged with two solid recordings: an original, “This Christmas Song,” and a cover of the classic, “O Holy Night.”

“It was madness,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We wrote the whole song in four hours and recorded it. It was nuts.”

Both songs, now available on iTunes, have since debuted on the Billboard charts -- "This Christmas Song" at No. 54 and "O Holy Night" at No. 82. But beyond holiday cheer, the tunes -- mostly based on acoustic guitar -- give a glimpse of what Miller can do sans piano, as she was known for on Idol.

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“All the songs I am writing now are piano-based, and haunting piano sounds, but with a Christmas song, I felt it had to be light and cheery," she says.

On the other hand, she was reverential when it came “O, Holy Night,” a song she wanted to sing over a lush piano accompaniment. 

“I play piano, but I’m not a genius at piano," Miller confesses. "I can’t do crazy stuff, and neither can the guys at Red Decibel, and I was thinking, ‘What are we going to do to have a really pretty piano piece?’”

Miller turned to a friend, Jackson Castilhoto help at the last minute. "Literally a day or two before we went in the studio to record my vocals, I asked him if he could make a piano piece in a few hours," she says. "He did it, and I was blown away.”

Preparing for the tour turned out to be an eye-opener for Miller. “It is 100 percent different than the Idol tour, where we rehearsed for a month,” she explains. “I was scared because I had 12 hours of rehearsal, but everyone is so cool and easy to work with, and it’s been great so far.”

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Fans attending the shows were treated to her original Christmas song, a duet with Smith and another “gorgeous” Christmas ballad, called “All is Well."

“I’m doing three solos and background vocals,” Miller adds. “It’s really fun.”

As soon as the tour wraps, she has her eyes set on 2014. On the agenda? A move to Los Angeles and meetings with record labels. Miller reveals that she got excellent advice from Adam Lambert, with whom she shared the stage on the Idol finale.

“When I met him, it was kind of like an instant click because we know what each other went through," she says. "He said a lot of great things about what is going to happen after Idol. He gave a lot of hints about what do when it was over. I don’t know the business side of things at all. I never had a reason to know about lawyers and contracts, and he helped a lot with that side of things."

She also praises pop singer Jessie J for being a good role model. "Singing with both Adam Lambert and Jessie J was the most unreal thing ever," says Miller. "They were so genuine and nice, and cared about working with me. It was great seeing that such huge stars have genuine hearts, and it's just a good example for me. If I ever get to that point I want to be just like they were."

Listen to "This Christmas Song" below:

Twitter: @MicheleAmabile