From the moment Patty Anne Miller sat behind a drum set at the age of 10, it was obvious to her that she had a natural gift.
“I didn’t even have to think about it; it was just easy,” said Miller, whose long journey drumming has led her to a role in the new film “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” A sequel to the ‘80s and ‘90s cult classics starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, the film can be rented via Premium VOD.
“When I performed in my sixth-grade concert, my parents immediately bought me a drum set,” the South Pasadena resident recalled of her early beginnings. “Back then, playing drums wasn’t something that a lot of girls did—it was mostly guys. I’m so grateful to my parents because they really nurtured my gift and allowed me to go after my dreams.”
During high school, Miller performed in the marching band and various concert bands, as well as at Sunday service for her church’s choir. She would spend hours practicing on the drums, playing along with her favorite CDs and mimicking her favorite drummers.
“When I played in church, there wasn’t any sheet music. You just listened to the song and performed,” Miller shared. “It’s innate. I can’t really explain it. I just played from my heart.”
Growing up in Manchester, Connecticut, Miller’s musical influences included Sheila E., Aaron Spears, Tony Royster Jr. and Travis Barker. During her senior year at Manchester High School, she attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts after school and won two awards from the Berklee High School Jazz Festival, hosted by Berklee College of Music in Boston.
After graduating from high school, she attended the local community college while working at Guitar Center. During one of her work shifts, when no one was around, Miller sat down behind a set of drums and began to play. She happened to draw the attention of an older Air Force gentleman who was in the store at the time, Sgt. Stanley Holland.
“He complimented my drum playing, then asked what I was doing with my life and if I was going to go to school for drums,” Miller said. “At that point, I hadn’t even thought about being a professional drummer—I had been planning to pursue the business side of music.
“The next day, something told me to go into work even though I had the day off, and that’s when I received a phone call from him at the store. He said he really believed that God wanted him to help me get on the right path, and at the time in my life, I was also praying for direction.”
Holland mentioned to Miller that Berklee College of Music was holding auditions for scholarships and said he felt that would be a great opportunity. He got her information before hanging up the phone; then, within a week and a half, she received a call from the school inviting her to audition. She made the drive to Boston for the audition and, three weeks later, found out she had been granted a full-tuition scholarship.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I knew that was where I was supposed to go and I was ready for the next level in my life. Berklee was that springboard that put me where I needed to be, and everything I’ve accomplished has been a result of getting that start. I truly believe that Sgt. Holland was my guardian angel.”
Miller spent the next four years at Berklee College of Music, where she studied professional music with a concentration in music business. Prior to graduating in 2010, she landed an internship at Sony Music’s film and marketing department in Los Angeles, so she moved to the West Coast. After completing her internship and earning her degree, Miller spent the next few years working in retail and playing drums in small bars across town.
In 2011, she tried out for “So You Think You Can Dance” and impressed the judges with her freestyle hip-hop routine, which earned her a ticket to Vegas. While she didn’t make it to the end, Miller said that it was a very positive and touching experience.
“I was getting all of these beautiful messages from people around the world who said they loved my dancing and my energy,” she pointed out. “I’m not your normal type of girl. I have a very unique and different style, and that was the first time in my life where I felt that being myself was enough.”
Miller ended up landing her first major gig as a drummer for Cee Lo Green in 2014, with whom she performed for the next two years, including opening for Lionel Richie. The following year, Miller got an agent and began to book roles on national television commercials, including McDonald’s. She even played drums for a Chobani Yogurt commercial.
In February 2016, the opportunity of a lifetime came when Miller performed with Beyoncé during the Super Bowl halftime show.
“I was ecstatic,” Miller said. “There were so many emotions going on, and I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
Next, Miller played on a promotional tour with Swedish artist Zara Larsson. Then, in 2017, she became the drummer for Quinn XCII, who she has been performing with for the past three years.
“Quinn is amazing and his whole team is like family to me,” Miller shared. “It’s so important to find an artist that you connect with, and it’s beautiful to be able to travel the world doing what you love.”
In 2019, Miller made the transition to the big screen when she landed the role of Grom in “Bill & Ted Face the Music” alongside Reeves and Winter. A casting director had messaged Miller on Instagram looking for a female drummer to play a role in the movie, so she filmed a self-tape and went through the audition process. A few weeks later, she was on a plane headed to New Orleans for a month of filming.
“It was such a beautiful experience,” Miller said. “Dean Parisot is an amazing director, and the entire cast and crew were wonderful. I had scenes with Keanu and Alex, and they were both so down to earth and cool. I enjoyed learning as much as I could from the other actors on set, and I definitely want to do more movies in the future.”
Due to COVID-19, tours and show dates have been canceled, so Miller has been taking advantage of this time to live in the moment, relax at home and spend more time outdoors.
“2019 was a super busy year for me, so I’m just taking time to rebalance and focus on my mental and spiritual side,” Miller said. “I’m looking at the silver linings in life and staying in gratitude. I love being able to share my gift with others and inspire them to pursue their dreams. When you believe in yourself and keep going, anything is possible. I’m just following my heartbeat and enjoying life.”
For more information, visit pattyannemiller.com.