'American Idol' Favorite Alex Miller Brings the Joy with Holiday Track 'That's What Christmas Is For'

"I think people need a little joy in their life. And if my song can bring some folks some happiness, then I think I've done my job," Miller tells PEOPLE

Country Traditionalist Alex Miller is “Single” But “Not Lonely” This Holiday Season
Alex Miller. Photo: Courtesy Billy Jam Records

Country traditionalist Alex Miller is a musical gem that can tell a darn good story. And one of the American Idol sweetheart's best ones is the one he tells of Christmas two years ago, when the Kentucky kid with the irresistible country twang wished and hoped to find a spanking new Gretsch guitar under the tree.

"Christmas came around that year and I ain't found no guitar-shaped objects under the tree," Miller, 18, enthusiastically recalls to PEOPLE during a recent interview, mere weeks after snagging a record deal in Nashville. "I ended up getting clothes and candy, which is good too! But after everyone left, it was time to start picking up the house. So, my dad said, 'Why don't you start behind my chair there?' And so, I went over behind the chair and there was that dang Gretsch guitar in the case with a bow on it. I was thrilled."

It is these kinds of surreal moments that Miller sings about on his new holiday song "That's What Christmas Is For."

"Christmas has always been a very special time of year for me," says Miller, who grew up listening to the George Strait Christmas albums during the holiday season. "You know, family always comes over on Christmas and we always have a really good time exchanging gifts and such. We always have a nice meal before Christmas too."

And while Miller says he can relate to every word he sings on "That's What Christmas Is For," he didn't actually write it.

"I liked the upbeat little song as soon as I heard it," the 6-foot-5 country charmer says of the song that was actually written by Jerry Salley and Aaron Wilburn. "And really, that is what Christmas is for. It's all about having fun and having a good time."

And while Miller is obviously one of those special people that always seem to have a smile on his face despite the world angrily swirling around him, the accomplished performer does admit that he feels the heaviness of this season in particular.

"We've had a little bit of a down year," says Miller, who first began performing when he was just 7 years old. "I think people need a little joy in their life. And if my song can bring some folks some happiness, then I think I've done my job."

Miller's innocent nature and down-home ideals are comforting in a world of Instagram-adoring country stars using far too many filters on their respective truths. And while it often seems like Miller belongs in a different era entirely, he is determined to not change to fit into any sort of box.

"I'm very, very blessed with a lot of people that believe in what I'm doing," says the multi-instrumentalist spitfire, whose western swing-infused single "Don't Let the Barn Door Hit Ya" is out now. "I don't believe that people should live their lives trying to be somebody else. I certainly ain't going to do that. I'm just an old farm boy with a guitar and a voice, I guess. I am who I am. And unfortunately for me, I can't hide that one bit."

He sighs, and then continues.

"I grew up on the farm and every day, you know, it's something different and something new," he says. "I have come to realize that being a farmer and being a musician isn't that different. If you don't do the work, nothing's ever going to happen. So, I'm definitely going to do what I can."

And this year, after a year of hard professional work, Miller says he just wants one thing this Christmas.

"Just peace and quiet," says Miller, who has opened for legendary artists such as Josh Turner, Hank Williams Jr. and Lee Brice and will release his debut album early next year. "I don't know if I'll get that or not. We will have to wait and see."

One thing he does deserve without a question is the opportunity to bring his traditional sound to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, an invite he actually received from American Idol judge Luke Bryan earlier this year.

"Well yeah, I have not gotten to go to the Opry quite yet," he says with that ole 'aw-shucks' conviction of his. "I did get to go to the Ryman Auditorium and play with Rhonda Vincent, but I have not gotten to play the Grand Ole Opry and I'm still waiting on that. I'm sure I'll be there at some point, but it is when that is the real question."

And his relationship status — what's that looking like right now?

"Oh, my goodness," Miller exclaims. "I would say that, uh, how do I say this? I am currently single, but I'm not lonely all the time."

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