On the Verge: Bea Miller

Sixteen-year-old Bea Miller, a former finalist on "The X Factor," is climbing the charts with her single "Fire N Gold."

This week in On the Verge, USA TODAY’s spotlight on breakthrough artists, Brian Mansfield talks to teen pop singer Bea Miller.

A seeker of truth. “My mission is to be the voice that I never had,” says Fire N Gold singer Bea Miller, whose debut album, Not an Apology, entered the Billboard album chart at No. 7 last week. “I had a lot of artists that I liked when I was younger, but none of them ever really told me the truth. None of them told me about the bad things that happened in life. It was all just kind of butterflies and rainbows. That’s not how I was always feeling. So I always wanted to be that.”.

How she got that voice. Miller, 16, appeared on the 2012 season of The X Factor before signing with Hollywood Records and releasing a single and EP called Young Blood last year. She has an unusually low, raspy voice for a girl her age, especially one who hasn’t fallen in with cigarettes and whiskey. “I got mine by speaking incorrectly from Day One, I’ve been told by my vocal coach,” she says. “Apparently, I speak lazily. It has caused a lot of problems for me. I wear down my voice faster than most people do.” She’s on tour with fellow X Factor alums Fifth Harmony through the end of August.

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Last wish. Miller never got to meet her grandmother Beatrice, for whom she was named. “She died long before I was born,” Miller says. “Apparently, on her deathbed, she told my mother she had to name her first daughter after her. It was a little intense. It was a very strict order.”.

Adventure runs in the family. Family lore says Miller is related to 19th-century explorer William Clark, who, along with Meriwether Lewis, led the first expedition across what became the western U.S. “I’ve been told it my whole life,” she says. “Every time I ask, ‘Mom, is that true? Did you used to tell me that when I was younger because you thought I’d think it was cool?’ She’s like, ‘No, it’s actually true.'”.

First date. Miller and YouTube sensation Jacob Whitesides just might be Twitter’s cutest couple, constantly sending each other flirty, romantic messages. “We don’t ever really get to go on dates,” says Miller, who met the young singer at an X Factor audition. “When we see each other, we don’t have a lot of time together very often. We just like to chill, watch TV — we have our show together (Arrow) that we always watch.” There was that time, though, that they went to Downtown Disney. Miller got a quesadilla. ‘We were like: ‘We have to do this once. We need to actually go on an official date.'”.

Her pre-career career. Occasionally, enterprising fans discover Miller’s childhood acting credits: She appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit with Amy Poehler when she was 9. She’s also the voice of Andy’s little sister, Molly, in Toy Story 3. “I don’t really talk about my acting career much, because I don’t focus on it anymore,” she says. “It has nothing to do with my singing career, so I never bring it up.”.

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