Meghan Davis, harpist, relaxes at her Haymarket Home, Sept. 9.

Photo by Paul Lara

The harp is a fascinating instrument. Weighing in at 85 pounds, standing six feet tall, and four feet deep, it’s hardly a common looking instrument. The ethereal sound that comes from playing its 47 strings is traditionally associated with classical music … not “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or the Game of Thrones theme. But in the hands of award-winning harpist, vocalist, and Haymarket resident Meghan Davis anything is possible.

Meghan has been playing the harp since she was about half the size of the instrument. On a trip to Ireland at the tender age of four, she encountered a harpist who made a lasting impression on her. Her mom has always said she was born with music in her, which is apparent when you meet her. To satisfy her desire to play an instrument, she began her musical journey with piano lessons, but she just wouldn’t let go of the harp. When she was nine, she got her wish and began taking harp lessons.

Her musical journey illustrates the hard work she put in, and the dedication and talent she possessed at a young age and throughout her life. While attending a music camp in Wilkes-Barre, PA, she met and began studying with a student from Julliard, Gulnara Mashurova, who became her mentor. (Ms. Mashurova is now the principal harpist of the Singapore Symphony.) By the time she was ten, she was traveling two and a half hours each way from PA to New York City to study with Gulnara every other week until she was 18. During this time, she was still playing piano, singing, and performing in musicals in her high school preparatory school.

Meghan was a good student, but when she attended music school, she said she understood what it felt like to be an A student. “The school was speaking a language I understood. It was amazing to see the difference when you’re in an environment where you can excel,” she said. As a young child she could identify a key change in music by ear. She can hear a melody and write it down. Her talent of translating what she hears and writing it down as music notes on the page, a process known as musical dictation, is a critical component of arrangement.

She entered The Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University as a vocal major, but much like when she was younger, she couldn’t be away from the harp, so naturally, she became a double major in harp and vocal performance. “Studying a double major provided me with a world-class education that set up my career. I never thought I’d be a singing harpist. Mentally, both playing and singing take up so much of your bandwidth,” Meghan said. But you wouldn’t know that when you watch her perform. She went on to earn her Master of Music Performance from the Boyer School at Temple University and to date she is one of few artists who can sing while playing the harp.

In 2018, Meghan and her family moved to Haymarket, where she has continued her prolific career as performer and arranger. She has two young children and enjoys teaching them music.

Meghan’s biography is without a doubt, impressive. But if you go to her YouTube channel, prepare to be amazed. The training she has received, and the drive and passion she has for music has resulted in a unique career where she not only performs but also arranges music in new ways.

Meghan performs at weddings, receptions, corporate events and concerts, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, like for so many others, her livelihood was put on pause. “I realized nothing is promised and it really helped me think about what I want to leave for my community and my children, as an artist,” she said. She and her husband Alex Keller, a professional cellist, began producing videos for her YouTube channel. Her husband, who is also an electrical engineer, learned editing, sound mixing, and cinematography. They have been enjoying recording Meghan’s solo performances, as well as harp and cello duos. She is currently recording her second album.

Ever since our interview, this writer has spent a significant amount of time watching and listening to Meghan’s unique talent and I hope you do the same. You can find her music on meghankdavis.com and YouTube.

Fun facts about Meghan:

  • She had a fangirl moment when she performed at a wedding where Taylor Swift was in attendance and thought she’d faint when Swift approached her and complimented her talent.
  • She arranges popular music from artists such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Christina Perri, Sting and the Beatles (among others) and from shows such as Game of Thrones for the harp.
  • She often performs with her husband, a cellist, and is currently teaching their four-year-old daughter the harp, violin, and piano.

 

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