If you haven’t heard of Miranda Joy Willmore yet, get ready…Because she is about to blow your socks off! Miranda has been part of our Cracker Barrel family for nearly 20 years, serving guests with smiles and songs in the Marion, IL store.
She was recently thrust into the national spotlight when a guest, Jared Gravatt, shared her soulful performance of “Happy Birthday” to their table on TikTok that went viral. It’s had millions of views and counting!
Miranda is no stranger to music. She’s been singing her whole life and credits her musical influences to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and her Dad. Her band U-Foria tours the country with their soulful mix of Southern rock and blues. Little did she know that a simple “Happy Birthday” to a guest was going to change her life in the most dramatic way.
As part of our Care it Forward campaign, we had a big surprise for Miranda. We arranged for her to be on the TODAY Show under the guise of singing “Happy Birthday” to a producer on the show. But, Hoda and Jenna revealed the big news.
Cracker Barrel is paying for her and her band to record a four song EP in Nashville at the famous Blackbird Studios!
We welcomed Miranda into town this past week for a meet and greet at our home office in Lebanon, TN, for a porch side acoustic set. She displayed her powerhouse vocals with a few amazing covers and one of the band’s original songs, “Small Town Famous,” co-written with her bandmate, Shawn Harmon.
When asked about why she’s stayed with Cracker Barrel for nearly 20 years, she said,
“It’s an amazing place. The people are great, the managers are great. I have a large family, but this has turned into my second family. I’m so proud of my work here. It’s turned out to be the greatest job I’ve ever had.”
Miranda is no stranger to the Nashville music scene, having sung at the famous Legends Corner and sitting in with different bands at Tootsies Orchid Lounge. She even tried out for American Idol and other singing competitions.
She credits her Dad, who was also a singer in a band called “Louisianna Lady,” as her biggest champion and inspiration.
“Dad got throat cancer, but he beat it. He can’t sing anymore because of the cancer, but he plays the guitar every so often. Growing up, he would sit me on his lap, and he’d sing to me. He’s my biggest fan and pushes me to do so many amazing things. He has always been there for me, and I love him so much.”
We followed her and her bandmates into the studio as they embarked on recording the new EP.
The studio was covered in a warm ambient glow, a welcoming atmosphere adorned with images of iconic bands and recordings, perfect for inspiring them to get ready to record.
They are in good company. Blackbird Studios is Nashville’s premier recording studio and home to legendary records by Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Bob Seger, Taylor Swift, and so many more.
“This is all so overwhelming. The fact that Cracker Barrel was willing to help us in our music career has made me feel super loved. To see that we get to be here in Nashville recording in this studio is a surreal experience,” adds Miranda.
We also surprised Miranda with a special video message from one of her favorite artists, Maddie & Tae, who wished her good luck on her big day in the studio.
The producer offered input as they refined the first single and worked with Miranda on perfecting her performance. If you’re a fan of powerhouse vocals and catchy Southern rock riffs, you’re going to love their signature song, “Small Town Famous.”
The song perfectly encapsulates the bands’ experience of touring from place to place to reach a bigger audience and fulfill their musical aspirations.
“Small Town Famous is essentially a story of our band’s journey,” explains Miranda. “Hitting the road, playing show after show, always to try to impact as many people as possible with our music.”
Get ready, U-Foria… You’re about to be so much more than small-town famous!
We are proud to call Miranda family, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
Learn more about our Care It Forward Program and be sure to keep an eye out for some fantastic music performances and special surprises coming soon.
For more Stories ‘Round the Barrel visit our page and sign-up so you never miss an update.