Who was that harpist who played with Usher on the Grammy’s you may be wondering? Turns out it was 18-year-old Melody Tai, who got the opportunity of a lifetime to play the live tribute version of Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic” with the pop star on the 57th Grammys show, which aired Feb. 8. The tune from Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life album originally featured harp accompaniment by Dorothy Ashby. Viewers got a treat when Wonder himself made a surprise at the end of the song. We asked Melody to tell us more about the experience.
When did you find out you’d be playing at the 2015 Grammys?
I found out I would be playing less than a week before the show.
How did they find out about you?
I was referred by my teacher, then I sent in videos and auditioned and got the job.
How did you know what to play? Did you transcribe the original version of the song?
They sent me a link as well as sheets for the song, and I was given a few special directions from Stevie Wonder.
What was it like working with Usher?
Usher and Stevie are both renowned musicians and wonderful people. I am very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working alongside them both, as well as everyone at the Grammys.
Did you meet any other celebrities?
I was only able to personally meet Usher and Stevie Wonder, but I did get to see many other celebrities.
Any backstage stories you can tell us about the event?
Backstage at the Grammys is very busy with so many performers getting ready and lining up for their shows, but everyone is very helpful and friendly there. I shared my dressing room with Adam Levine’s backup singers and they were very kind to me. I did have a fun moment though when I was getting my makeup done and Ed Sheeran happened to walk in to adjust his shirt next to where I was sitting.
What do you do when you’re not playing with famous pop stars?
Mostly, I like to spend time with family and friends like any ordinary teenager. My other hobbies include dancing, piano, and reading.
What are your plans with the harp?
I am going to be a harp major in college and hope to one day become an orchestral harpist for a major orchestra.
Anything else you want to let Harp Column readers know about you?
I feel truly grateful to have had the opportunity to play at the Grammys and I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and support!