Carnegie Mellon University
March 18, 2022

Harpist Madison Calley's Got Pluck

Dietrich alumni brings ancient instrument into the digital age

By Kristy Locklin

Harpist Madison Calley grew up idolizing singer-songwriter Alicia Keys.

In October 2019, she posted an Instagram video of herself playing the superstar’s song “If I Ain’t Got You.” The clip went viral after Alicia shared it on her own page. To date, it’s received more than 1.4 million views.

While the internet was buzzing about the gifted harpist, she was fast asleep. She awoke to find hundreds of congratulatory messages on her phone.

“It was surreal. It’s the coolest feeling and brings me so much gratitude,” says Madison, a 2016 graduate of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences with a degree in policy and management. 

Since that social media onslaught, Madison’s collaborated with recording artists Jaden and Willow Smith, Arianda Grande and Usher; performed at the Grammys, Latin Grammys, BET Awards and iHeartRadio Music Awards; been featured in Rolling StoneEssence and Forbes magazines and released “Ethereal,” an album of cover songs.

She’s currently working on a 30-minute harp meditation for the Calm app, composing original arrangements, tinkering with traditional Christmas tunes and debuting a new line of swimwear.

Read more about Calley’s accomplishments