Dayna Stephens was born in Brooklyn, New York august 1st, 1978, and was raised in the San Francisco bay area. He began playing the saxophone at age 13. He attended the prestigious Berkeley High School and took part in their jazz ensemble. Dayna was then accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a full scholarship. There, he studied with Hal Crook, Billy Pierce, George Garzone and Andy McGee among others. While in Boston, Dayna also had the opportunity to perform with Chick Corea and the Boston Pops for a P.B.S. special.
After graduating from Berklee, Dayna was selected to be in the Thelonious Monk Institute of jazz program located at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard. He studied there for 2 years and while there, Dayna studied and played with, among others: Dave Holland, Kenny Barron, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Lewis Nash, Mark Turner, Christian McBride, Carl Allen and Terence Blanchard who was the artistic director of the program. In the spring of 2003 the Monk group made a recording featuring Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. The recording Featured some of the best compositions and arrangements made by group throughout their 2 years spent together.