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HTHS grad reaching for the Nashville stars

By June Mathews

A recent visit to Nashville could be the start of something big for 22-year-old Jonathan “Johnny” Dailey. A 2009 graduate of Hewitt-Trussville High School, Dailey traveled north to meet with Sony executive Rex Schnelle, who expressed interest in the young singer/songwriter after seeing one of Dailey’s home-recorded music videos.

The connection was made when Trussville native Scott Murphree, now a resident of Nashville, saw the video on Facebook and asked if he could show it to one of his friends in the music industry. That friend was Schnelle, a producer of more than 3,000 demos for Sony Publishing writers, who has worked with such big names as Olivia Newton John, Waylon Jennings, Jon Bon Jovi and Merle Haggard.

“Of course I said yes,” said Dailey, “and it just kind of went from there.”

Within a few days, Dailey was hanging out with Schnelle and a couple other songwriters in a Nashville studio, recording a song the entire team hopes will one day be heard on radio stations across the nation. The session was a dream-come-true for Dailey, something he’d envisioned since age 12 when he got his first guitar.

Jonathan Dailey
submitted photo

“My dad surprised me with it so I could have something to play in a talent show,” he said. “After that, I started leading worship at my church, and my playing and singing evolved from there. Not until high school did I realize I could make it a possible career path.”

While Dailey feels performing country music best fits his personality and the way he grew up, he also has a passion for worship music and how it touches people on a spiritual level.

“I think I most enjoy finding that balance of singing both and mixing those two types of music together,” he said. “I feel like music is one of the most powerful things we have in life. It can meet us wherever we are, and there seems to be a song for every feeling.”

Music, however, isn’t Dailey’s only creative outlet. The son of Joey and Kelly Dailey of Trussville, he grew up in a family full of craftsmen, inheriting the desire and ability to work with his hands from his father and grandfather. Thanks to their tutelage, he’s learned how to build tables, metal gates and other custom pieces.

“That’s what I do when I’m not working on my music,” he said. “But I play as much as I can and wherever I can, trying to perfect my music craft whether I’m singing, songwriting or playing the guitar.”

In the meantime, Dailey is taking a realistic attitude toward his prospects of a big-time career in music and the effort it would take to get there. He’s naturally hoping for the best, but he knows the journey could be long and hard.

“All I can do is give it all I’ve got and see where it leads,” he said. “I guess we’ll have to see what doors God opens.”

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