Leyla McCalla: from classical cello to Langston Hughes and Haitian folk
May 29, 2016 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Leyla McCalla is a classically trained cellist who grew up in New York with her Haitian parents. She moved to New Orleans where she performed on Royal Street and learned about the Haitian history of the community. McCalla also joined the Carolina Chocolate Drops and diversified her style and sound. With the combined influence of place and company, she started performing Haitian folk music, which she paired that music with poetry of Langston Hughes for her first solo album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes (Soundcloud album stream). That was two years ago, and now she has her second album, A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (YT, official video for the title track; YT playlist), where she sings in Haitian Creole, French, and English.

In her second album, McCalla draws on old folk songs, proverbs, and more. On Histories, Stories, and Identities: A Conversation with Leyla McCalla (The Bluegrass Situation). See also: A conversation with Leyla McCalla, on balancing family and music, history and legacy (Afropunk) ; and more of Leyla's musical history: from Bach on the street to Haitian folk-jazz (The Guardian).

More music:
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Sunday Weekend Edition had a good interview with McCalla this morning. It was a good interview and made me interested in her work. Thanks for this post -- good resource for me to explore further.
posted by hippybear at 2:36 PM on May 29, 2016

I saw her with the Chocolate Drops right before her first album came out, and the song she did off it was fantastic. I never wound up listening to her after that, but now I will!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:56 PM on May 29, 2016

She is new to me. Thanks for the introduction. Great post.
posted by cwest at 3:08 PM on May 29, 2016

Wow, I am knocked out by her. In a good way. Thanks!
posted by pipoquinha at 5:33 PM on May 29, 2016

So excellent- thank you!
posted by Secretariat at 12:19 AM on May 30, 2016

Awesome post! I love the CCD and her solo stuff is fantastic!
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:44 AM on May 30, 2016

This is great, thank you!
posted by the thought-fox at 1:51 PM on May 30, 2016

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