Leyla McCalla is a musician who defies boundaries. Singing in English, French, and Haitian Creole, McCalla has created a style of music wholly her own. A classically trained cellist, McCalla cultivates her unique blend by merging classical and roots traditions and switching between her cello, banjo, and guitar. Having worked with the award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, McCalla has made a name for herself as a solo artist with her refreshing and poetic vocals and unbridled talent.
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 2014’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, The Boston Globe, and Offbeat, for its haunting mixture of music and message.
Leyla’s second album, titled A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey, was released in the spring of 2016 by Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi. A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey continued to explore the themes of social justice and pan-African consciousness that marked Vari-Colored Songs, and once again featured songs sung in English, French, and Haitian Creole. The album also included 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.
Leyla has spent the last year and a half touring extensively around North America and Europe, and is preparing to release her third album in 2018.