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As the winner of competitions sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, Metropolitan Opera, New York University, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Downbeat Magazine, and Connecticut Opera Guild, Mela (mee-la) Dailey has command of both her instrument and the stage. She has received recognition in a wide variety of musical genres including opera, oratorio, art song, musical theater, vocal jazz, gospel, country, and popular music. Her professional debut took place in 2003 at Carnegie Hall with the Grammy nominated Conspirare Company of Voices directed by Craig Hella Johnson, a group with whom she also records for the Harmonia Mundi label. Dailey's solo CD Shelter with cellist Scott Kluksdahl and pianist Rick Rowley is on the Pierian label (internationally distributed by Naxos) and available through Amazon.com and iTunes. She will be heard on Hanan Townshend’s score to the feature film The Vessel to be released in fall 2014 as well as on a gospel CD with the Miami-based choral ensemble Seraphic Fire.
The 2015/2016 season includes her debuts with the Florida and Grand Rapids orchestras, as well as returning as a soloist with the Chattanooga and Austin symphony orchestras for performances of Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Poulenc's Gloria. She also will perform selections from Rusalka, Lucia di Lammermoor, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and world premieres by Donald Grantham, Eric Banks, and Nico Muhly. In August of 2015, Dailey was the soprano soloist with Texas Choral Consort for a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis. She will be recording and performing extensively with Conspirare, in Los Angeles, for the recording Considering Matthew Shepard, and in Canada for the music of Stephen Paulus. She will provide on-air and voice-over talent for a TV station in Idaho, fall 2015. Dailey will once again work with composer Hanan Townshend on the soundtrack of the major-motion picture Heaven Sent, which is set to be released in December 2015. She will also be performing in a world premiere piece for soprano by Robert Patterson in February of 2016. Dailey will once again collaborate and sing the lead role of Kevin Puts' opera entitled, Manchurian Candidate.
For the 2013/2014 season she performed Verdi's and Mozart's requiems with the Austin and Chattanooga symphony orchestras respectively. She returned to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for three weeks of concerts, which included Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Copland's Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson, songs of Bernstein, operetta and Broadway selections, and music for the Christmas holidays. Her professional choral ensemble work continued with Conspirare and Seraphic Fire. Dailey’s recording with Conspirare on Harmonia Mundi features her as soloist in Kevin Puts' To Touch the Sky.
The 2012/13 season included Debussy's La damoiselle elue and Poulenc's Gloria in a return to the Georgetown (TX) Festival, a France and Midwest U.S. tour plus an all-Russian CD with Conspirare, solo debuts with the Spokane and Edmonton symphony orchestras, a Florida chamber music tour, a return engagement with the Dallas Wind Symphony, and a tour with Seraphic Fire.
2010/2011 highlights included singing the role of Tina in Jonathan Dove's opera Flight with Austin Lyric Opera, performing and recording Samuel Barber and Christmas choral programs with Conspirare for Harmonia Mundi, Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle with Chorus Austin, and appearing as soloist with the Capital City Men's Chorus. Also in that season, she took part in a jazz concert in Klagenfurt, Austria, and made her debuts with the Dallas Wind Symphony, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. At the Georgetown (TX) Festival of the Arts, she sang Brahms' German Requiem and gave recitals around the U.S. with Scott Kluksdahl beginning with the Helps Festival of Music in Tampa. Previous operatic performances include the roles of Ines in Il Trovatore, Countess Ceprano (and covering Gilda) in Rigoletto, and Ida (also covering Adele) in Die Fledermaus with Austin Lyric Opera, Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore and Musetta in La Bohème with the Opera Company of Brooklyn, the title role of Semele at the Staunton Music Festival (VA), and Frasquita in Carmen with the Amarillo Opera. She has performed scenes from Don Giovanni, Die Lustige Witwe and Die Fledermaus with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra as well as La Traviata, Rigoletto, La Bohème, Die Fledermaus, The Tales of Hoffmann, Lakmé, Linda di Chamounix, and Louise in opera galas with Austin Lyric Opera and the Britt Festival Orchestra. With the Austin Symphony Orchestra she sang the role of Sophie in the act III trio and finale from Der Rosenkavalier. She has also appeared in concert with the Carinthian Symphony Orchestra of Klagenfurt, Austria, and was artist-in-residence with the Amarillo Opera.
Oratorio appearances include Handel's Messiah with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Handel's Samson, Bach's Magnificat and Schubert's Mass in A-flat with Chorus Austin, and Dvorak's Stabat Mater with the Georgetown Festival of the Arts.
Dailey has been heard in recital at the Puigcerda Festival in Spain, and in the summer of 2008, she joined tenor Robert White, composer Lowell Liebermann, soprano Martina Arroyo, violinist Timothy Fain, pianist Inon Barnatan, cellist Scott Kluksdahl, and flutist Marya Martin for the Metropolitan Opera sponsored Mediterranean Music Festival, which started in Athens and finished in Venice. Her recital work has also taken her to Minneapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Roanoke, and San Antonio. Dailey's Austin performances often include pianists Anton Nel and Rick Rowley.
Passionate about many charities and causes, Dailey has raised over $100,000 for Austin groups including Life Works, Austin Lyric Opera, Austin's After School Arts Programs, GLBT Alliance, Historical Organ Restoration, Honor Our Heroes, an Alzheimer's care facility called House of Friends, and many more. In November 2011, she headlined the Survivors Brunch Concert for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Beginning July 11, 2015, Dailey will be hosting a radio show on KMFA called Icons of Broadway. This show celebrates some of the greatest artists ever to be associated with the Great White Way. Each music-filled episode spotlights an iconic performer or personality who has defined classic American musical theater. From Judy Garland to Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell to Stephen Sondheim, Icons of Broadway will feature great recordings of some of the most magical moments in music history, examining the course of artists’ roles and careers in one or two weekly episodes.
As an added highlight of the series, each week Dailey and special guest performers will treat listeners to one of these great Broadway songs recorded live in the KMFA studios.
Dailey is artistic director of Life in the City, a United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas (www.lifeinthecityaustin.org), and she was a past lecturer in vocal technique for the department of theatre and dance at the University of Texas. For more information go to www.meladailey.com.