Buddy Miller got his first few minutes of semi-popularity in the past year with his album Universal United House of Prayer, which was nominated for the Southern Gospel Grammy (Randy Travis beat him out). But dont let the Grammys inane categories fool you. House of Prayer is definitely gospel music of a sort, and it does include a Louvin Brothers cover. But it also features African-American gospel singers Regina and Ann McCrary as co-vocalists, and Miller says the album was inspired by the socially conscious late 60s and early 70s work of the Staples Singers and Marvin Gaye. In any case, its hard to imagine Millers nine-minute cover of Bob Dylans anti-war ballad "With God on Our Side" on the Bill Gaither Homecoming.
Millers hardly your typical gospel artist, of any stripe. Hes been knocking around the rockier edges of the country music world for a dozen years or so as a guitarist, songwriter, producer, and minor-league recording artist. Hes been the guitar player in most of Emmylou Harris backing bands for the past decade. Harris calls him "one of the best guitar players of all time." Thats high praise from a woman whos had Elvis old sideman, James Burton, in her bands. Miller and his wife, singer-songwriter Julie Miller, operate a recording studio called "Dogtown" in their Nashville home. And since the mid-1990s, theyve put out a series of excellent alt-country albums, separately and together, on the roots-music indie label HighTone. To round out the mortgage payment, some of their songs have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, and Brooks & Dunn.