04-08-19 | Songs for Listening | Leyla McCalla
Musician Leyla McCalla picked tunes at Songs for Listening for Monday, April 8. Leyla is a New York-born, Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in English, French, and Haitian Creole; she 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 the influence of three centuries of history.
Leyla first achieved attention as a member of the GRAMMY-winning group, Carolina Chocolate Drops. Leyla’s debut solo album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, was named 2013’s Album of the Year by London Sunday Times and Songlines Magazine. Her follow-up release, A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey, also acclaimed, explored social justice and pan-African consciousness with tunes in English, French, and Haitian Creole ("a language of resistance," says Leyla). Leyla is also featured — along with Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, and Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago) — on the brand-new Smithsonian Folkways release, Songs of our Native Daughters.
Leyla's latest solo album, The Capitalist Blues, features a full band that allows the music to swing, shake, and shimmy more than on previous projects. The album is Leyla's vehicle for grappling with the current political climate in our country, where many of the issues are financial, but they’re rarely simply financial; Leyla puts it like this: “It feels like everyone’s in a pressure cooker in this country."
'If It Wasn't Broken' by Sunny War from 'With the Sun'
'Doorstep' by tune-yards from 'W H O K I L L'
'The Cricket Song' by Petunia & The Vipers from 'Petunia & The Vipers'
'Quilibois' from Trio Select feat. Jean Gesner Henry from 'Plein Caille'