Let There Be Music: Mela Sarajane Dailey’s Sensationally Stylish Life

March 1, 2024
3 mins read
Mela Sarajane Dailey. Photo by Joseph Moran

GRAMMY Award-winning performer, national nonprofit CEO, and community leader Mela Sarajane Dailey is a multi-faceted talent. The accomplished Austinite is riding high these days when you consider her singing performance at Lincoln Center, her ongoing largess, and the way she leads her stylish life that inspires others to do their best. She is the founder of American Artists Project to support burgeoning artists. The busy mom (of son, Colin) also happens to be part of a Texas power couple: her husband is Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Peter Bay. Here, longtime pal Lance Avery Morgan catches up to learn about the magic behind her multidimensional world.

I made my first dollar by…Singing backup on tour at 15 years old for Nelda Cain (T. Boone Pickens ex-wife) and then going on to sing back up for all the stars performing the State Fair circuit like Alan Jackson. 

Best advice I’ve received is…According to author Erin Van Vuren, four things in this life will change you. Love, music, art, and loss. The first three will keep you wild and full of passion. May you allow the last to make you brave.

My favorite iPhone wake-up song is…right now it’s Silent All These Years by Tori Amos. I have loved her from the moment I heard this album and now I’m singing some of her songs in concerts with my Broadway colleague Nicholas Rodriguez for @AmericanArtistsProject. There’s something about her voice and lyrics that cut through and moves me to my core. Three things that got me where I am today…persistence, gratitude, and good therapy. 

Book that left a lasting impression on me…Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Glennon is, for me and millions of others, the patron saint of female empowerment. This memoir explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice within us.

First album I bought was…MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em. You better believe I had a full Hammer pants matching outfit for the first day of 6th grade and I was loving life.

Wrap bracelet by Elena Cortez-Neavel

My personal style signifier is…that I love wearing other female creator’s designs and bringing much-deserved attention to them. For example, there is a new jewelry brand out called @futurekindstudio by Elena Cortez-Neavel who makes adaptive (and gorgeous) jewelry that is sustainable and has magnetic closers for people with disabilities. I feel like supporting other women is always going to be in style.  

My style icon is…Style and fashion is a form of art as well. I love a classic, chic, Grace Kelly-inspired appearance.  For other occasions, I lean more into an eclectic style inspired by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (who frequently collaborated with Louis Vuitton for their collections). I work closely with my stylist, Nathan Idais, and he and I are always on the same wavelength when it comes to reading a room and creating just the right outfit. Whether it’s a ladies luncheon, a magazine feature, or a trip to the Grammy Awards—I so appreciate the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that Nathan brings. 

If I could compete in an Olympic sport, it would be…Playing on the women’s Olympic basketball team. Now, even though I played for a while in high school, it’s always been apparent that I should stick to singing. After cheering on my extremely athletic and talented, 15-year-old son for all of his basketball games, I think it would be amazing to have one ounce of that athletic gift. I mean, a girl can dream. 

The beauty essential you’d have to pry out of my cold, dry hands is…my Stellar Daily Serum by @DeSavery.  I use it in the morning as a moisturizer or as my night serum. It sinks in so beautifully, smells incredible, and I love that it’s full of amazing plant ingredients. I might not be all-natural in everything I do, but at least my skincare is. 

My perfect day would end…with having a huge gelato with my family on the Amalfi coast, watching the sunset staring out at the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I’d love to be remembered for…I hope that I have made people feel loved, seen, and valued. Not for what they do, but for who they are. I hope that I leave people feeling better about themselves than when I found them. 

The Gentleman Racer by Michael Satterfield

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