Music: Daya

This article is part of our Create & Cultivate 100 List created in collaboration with KEDS, you can view the full Music List Here.

Supporting women through song. 

At 18 Daya writes songs about building confidence and taking control of her own life. Something the songstress hopes “inspires other women to do the same.” 

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, when she’s not touring Daya spends most of her time in the city that raised her. Writing music and performing are in her blood. “Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she shares. “I played my first gig was when I was nine at a bar uptown from where I grew up in Pittsburgh and I’ve craved the stage ever since then.”

With the rust belt as her background and “four extremely strong, intelligent, and talented sisters,” as well as “hardworking parents who run their own business,” Daya been bolstered on all sides. She represents the best of the future. The Gen Z voice that’s intersectional, accepting, and most importantly: won’t back down. 

And the music world has taken notice. Her debut single, “Hide Away,” went platinum and she’s featured on The Chainsmokers’ double-platinum song of the summer “Don’t Let Me Down.” The idea of a young, female songstress with bold lyrics  

Her goal is to “empower others, especially females, to believe they have the potential to accomplish anything they set their minds to with hard work.” 

She says she feels free to speak to her mind, even in a music industry that is notoriously sexist. (see: Madonna’s recent speech at the 2016 Billboard Women in Music Awards.) But the sage-for-her-age teen recognizes that her “freedom to be honest and open” is not afforded to “many women in different cultures across the world.” 

She swears by journaling, forcing herself to do it even when she doesn’t want to. “It helps clear my mind and usually ends up sparking some cool ideas for songs.” 

Songs that she can’t wait to get up and perform. 

“The adrenaline rush of getting up on stage and seeing thousands of people singing along,” keeps her moving forward. Sure, she says “There have been people along the way who don’t take me seriously because I’m a female and unusually young for the industry.” And in the beginning, Daya “constantly felt the pressure to prove myself to those people,” to only realize, “I’m just as deserving of my own voice and opinions as any other artist.” Which is what the song "Dare," of her first full-length album, it Still, Look Pretty, is all about. 

“I’m just as deserving of my own voice and opinions as any other artist.”

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She’s been on grueling tour schedules and recalls getting very sick the morning of one show. "I tried everything I could but wasn't able to remedy it in time and it was too late to cancel. I proceeded to have the worst show I've ever had and I was embarrassed and depressed because I felt like I wasn’t giving the audience what they came for.  Momentarily I wanted to quit, but in the back of my head I knew I just had to push through because there would be much better days to come.” 

A self-professed perfectionist, Daya says she used to be really hard on herself about everything. “I can still be that way at times,” she admits, “but I’m much more forgiving now. I’ve learned the importance of self-trust and self-love.” She manages to squeeze in some normal teenage stuff as well.  Last year she graduated from high school, attended her senior prom, and managed to squeeze in hanging with her friends and binging on Netflix like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, she released Sit Still, Look Pretty and performed at the White House. 

She’s game to accept every challenge, motivated by strong female artists that have come before. “Amy Winehouse, Alanis Morissette, and Dido impressed me the most as women able to channel raw, powerful emotion and honest stories into their songs.” 

It’s what she intends to do with the music she makes. “My career was something that I used to fantasize about, and now it's my everyday life. I’m so passionate about it and determined to tackle anything thrown at me.”