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Making Music is Just a Part of Life for Ole Miss' Ryan Miller

Stairway Session: “Can’t You See/Midnight Rider” by Marshall Tucker Band & The Allman Brothers

Posted by Ryan Miller on Monday, July 30, 2018

By Alyssa Schnugg
Staff writer

When things get a little stressful at work, some people may take a smoke break or do a few yoga moves.

Ryan Miller, however, grabs his guitar and heads to the stairwell close by and sings away his stress.
About 18 months ago, he started sharing those “Stairway Sessions” with his friends on Facebook and many of the videos have garnered more than 500 “likes.”
The stairwell is located in the back of the University of Mississippi Center for Manufacturing Excellence where Miller works as the associate director for external operations.
“For me, playing the guitar and singing is a way for me to recharge,” Miller said. “I would go in the stairwell and sing and practice and one day I decided I’d post one of the recordings on Facebook. If I’m going to play and sing and be silly, I might as well create something and so that’s how “Stairway Sessions” started.”
Miller came to Oxford in 1997 to attend Ole Miss on a music scholarship.
“Somehow, I never left,” he said.

Ryan Miller playing at Proud Larry’s. Photo courtesy of Ryan Miller.

He sang with the Ole Miss Concert Singers where he was able to travel around the world, competing on a global level.
“I was 18 years old and standing in front of Mount Vesuvius in Italy and I’d think, ‘How did this happen?’” Miller said. “Music is what brought me to Oxford and since then, it’s shaped my life.”
He sang with the Ole Miss Jazz Band and Blue 10 Harmony – an accomplice group he helped form while attending Ole Miss.
“We got pretty good,” he said. “We’d sing in bathrooms and stairwells because of the acoustics.”
He sang the national anthem at ball games for Ole Miss – like in 2002 when Eli Manning beat Rex Grossman and for the Atlanta Braves.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Miller went on to attend the Ole Miss School of Law where he earned his law degree and passed the bar exam in 2002; however, he never worked as an attorney and life took him down a different path. He went to work for the Admission’s Office instead, before moving over to the Center for Manufacturing 10 years ago.
“I decided working for the university was more fun than practicing law,” he said.
Ryan Miller singing in the stairwell at the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

However, he does teach a business law class at Ole Miss.
Today, when he’s not working or spending time with his wife, Erin, and three children – Shirley Cate, 8, Gracie, 6, and Max, 3, or recording his “stairway sessions” for Facebook, he can sometimes be found singing at the Mid-Town Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
“When you get okra and tomatoes as your payment, that’s a great gig,” he said. “I’ll go home with the best vegetables you’ll ever have.”
He met his wife, Erin, at Ole Miss. She was also in the Ole Miss Concert Singers, however, the two didn’t date until after they both graduated from the university.
“We’re a very musical household,” Miller said. “She and I are always singing and the children sing as well.”
The two often sing on Sundays at their church, College Hill Presbyterian.
Miller performs a wide variety of music during his “Stairway Sessions,” from county to folk to gospel with a few classic rock songs thrown in. Last week, he “Rick Rolled” his Facebook audience with an acoustical version of Rick Astley’s 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“It’s just fun for me to put the recordings on Facebook,” he said. “It’s me getting to pretend I’m a real musician. I do enjoy how people respond to it. So much you see on Facebook makes you want to unplug, so I decided to do something fun with it.”

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