Leyla McCalla | SFJAZZ
A former member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, cellist, banjoist, singer, and guitarist Leyla McCalla embraces American roots music at its most fundamental, with a deep personal connection to the cultural legacy built by the immigrants who settled here over the generations. Lauded as a “musical virtuoso” by NPR, McCalla was born in New York to Haitian parents and spent several formative teenage years in Africa, before returning to the States to study cello performance and eventually settling in New Orleans, where she found a renewed connection to her Haitian heritage. In her words, “The more I learned about the history of Louisiana, its ties to Haiti and French speaking culture, the more sense of belonging I felt and continue to feel.” McCalla appeared on the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ GRAMMY-nominated 2012 release Leaving Eden and toured extensively with the group before departing to focus on her own work, which began in earnest on 2013’s Vari-Colored Songs, a tribute to Harlem Renaissance icon Langston Hughes that was named album of the year by Songlines magazine and London’s Sunday Times. McCalla makes her SFJAZZ debut with music from her 2016 Harmonia Mundia session A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, named for the Haitian proverb and filled with songs of struggle and social consciousness, sung in English, French and Haitian Creole.