#BigThingsThursday is a weekly series of short interviews with people who are doing big things for the community and for the world. If there's someone you think I should highlight, email me: BigThings@LucyKalantari.com.
Meet Lloyd H. Miller: musician, songwriter and performer who's passionate about history and passionate about community. For over 13 years, he's been entertaining children and their families while simultaneously teaching them wonderful pieces of history. Whether with his band the Deedle Deedle Dees or his solo sing-alongs, he gets every single person (of any age) involved in the action.
Q. BIG THINGS begin with an intention, what is yours?
A. My intention is to bring music where it's not. Where it can heal people. I'm best known to the national family music scene for doing songs based on history and these are part of this mission. Lots of kids have had very negative experiences with social studies -- and with school in general -- and I want to help right that ship in whatever small way I can. I want to get kids excited about stories from stories from history. And stories in general. Show them how stories from their own lives and those of people they know are the stuff of music and art. I'm also very concerned with the "hidden people" of our society. People with serious disabilities. Kids and adults with life-threatening illnesses. People with mental illness. Kids in low-income schools that people tend to call "failing schools." These are all groups that society at large, if we're honest, doesn't really want to deal with (even though people give lip service to helping these groups). I want to bring song to these communities -- and show them they have their own songs to sing.
Q. How are you fulfilling this intention?
A. I'm continuing to make my esoteric and combative history-themed albums although they never make any money. And I'm spending more and more time in neighborhoods, schools, and facilities where kids and adults don't get the amazing musical experiences that families with money can have.
Q. What barriers have you encountered, and how have you dealt with them?
A. Thirteen years after starting the Deedle Deedle Dees, I'm still trying to find my niche. Festivals and kids programming is aimed pretty young -- and tends to focus on upbeat, non-controversial topics. Someone recently told me that I might encounter resistance on the national level with my song about Charles Darwin. I put my head on the table and tried not to cry.
Extra: Share a favorite quote that keeps you motivated.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thank you, Lloyd, for giving so much to our community. Personally, I have learned more history (than I care to admit) thanks to you. You continue to be a personal inspiration and mentor on many levels.
Be sure to catch the Deedle Deedle Dees at their CD release concert at Jalopy Theater on Saturday, October 22nd!
I'll leave you with one of my son's favorite Lloyd songs, "The Rocket Went Up!" off the new Deedle Deedle Dees album, Sing-a-long History, Vol II: The Rocket Went Up! available now on iTunes and CDBaby