Peter Miller is the frontman for We Are The Willows, an orchestral indie rock band based out of Minneapolis. The band's first album was called "Places," and was inspired by the relationship between people and places. Their second album, "Picture [Portrait]," was motivated by a different source: 350 love letters.
How it all started
Peter's grandfather was stationed in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, and during that time, he wrote back and forth to Peter's grandmother. Alvin Miller, Peter's grandfather, had heard of Verlie Branster, Peter's grandmother, but he didn't know what she looked like. So before he was drafted, he started chopping wood for her father. The moment Alvin laid eyes on Verlie, he was entranced. In one of his letters he wrote:
"Dear Ms. Branster you are on my heart and you were from the start. To be there chopping wood is as good a chance as any to see your face in time and place, your eyes and your kind smile I will reconcile me to you."
The same year that Alvin met Verlie, he was drafted into the Army. In the four years that followed, Alvin and Verlie would exchange more than 350 letters. Although their future remained uncertain, their love for each other never faltered. Even when Alvin returned home from the war, he lived 150 miles away from Verlie, so they kept writing to each other until they were able to marry.
Unfortunately, only the letters Peter's grandmother's received survived because Alvin couldn't carry all of his home after the war ended.
From letters to music
Peter actually lived with his grandparents while he went to college, and on his graduation day, he was given the stack of 350 letters as a gift. Then, in 2009, Peter started reading the letters and became invested in their story, letting those words of love and care inspire his music and newest album.
"As I read more letters, and became more invested in this person that my grandpa was, thoughts came more together in the later years," Peter told Buzzfeed. "I was one of my grandpa's primary caretakers before he passed away, and that kind of reignited the project"
The album is set to release on Nov. 4, 2014 through The Homestead Records.
It's truly amazing how two people were able to build such a strong relationship that turned into a happy marriage through hundreds of handwritten letters. The power of love letters, thank you cards, birthday cards, etc., will never be lost.