If you think harp music is boring or outdated, think again. Madison Calley is a classically trained harpist who is making waves on social media and beyond with her soulful renditions of R&B, pop, and hip-hop songs. She has over 500,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, where she posts videos of herself playing covers of artists like Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Ne-Yo, and Drake. She has also collaborated with violinist Ezinma on a stunning version of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” .
But Calley is not just a viral sensation. She is also a trailblazer in the classical music world, where she is one of the few black women harpists. According to one estimate, less than five percent of orchestral musicians in the United States are BIPOC . Calley is breaking down barriers and stereotypes with her talent and passion for the harp, which she started playing at the age of eight after seeing a harpist perform Disney songs at a restaurant .
Calley’s love for the harp led her to pursue a degree in music performance at the University of Southern California, where she studied with renowned harpist JoAnn Turovsky. She also learned to play piano and guitar, and developed an interest in different genres of music. She says she likes to experiment with different sounds and styles on the harp, and that she enjoys playing contemporary music because it challenges her and allows her to express herself .
Calley’s versatility and creativity paid off when she got the opportunity to perform with rapper Roddy Ricch at the 2021 Grammy Awards. She played the harp instrumental for his song “Rockstar”, which she had previously recorded and sent to his team as a demo. She says it was an amazing experience to be on stage with Ricch and to be part of history as a black woman harpist .
Calley is not only making history, but also making an impact on people’s lives with her music. She says she receives messages from fans who tell her that her music helps them relax, heal, or cope with difficult situations. She also hopes to inspire young people, especially young black girls, to pursue their dreams and to explore classical music and the harp.
Calley is currently working on her debut album, which will feature original songs and covers. She says she wants to showcase her range and diversity as a musician and as a person. She says she wants to make music that resonates with people and that makes them feel something .
Madison Calley is more than just a harpist. She is an artist, an innovator, and a role model. She is shattering stereotypes about harpists and classical music with her unique style and vision. She is proving that the harp is not a boring or outdated instrument, but a versatile and expressive one that can adapt to any genre and mood. She is Madison Calley, and she is making history.