“Her voice is disarmingly natural, and her settings are elegantly succinct: often just the barest lattice of plucked strings (cello, guitar, banjo), with an occasional turn toward old-time swing or Haitian rhythms. Her magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.” – The New York Times
Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty—it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary.
Leyla’s debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, was named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines magazine, and received additional raves from a number of other publications, including the New York Times, Boston Globe and Offbeat, for its haunting mixture of music and message.
Now, having toured extensively in the U.S., Europe and Israel in support of Vari-Colored Songs, Leyla is focusing on her next album. Titled A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey, the album was released in the spring of 2016 by Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi. A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey continues to explore the themes of social justice and pan-African consciousness that marked Vari-Colored Songs, and once again features songs sung in English, French and Haitian Creole. The album also includes guest appearances by legendary guitarist Marc Ribot, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and New Orleans singer-songwriter/guitarist Sarah Quintana.