Leyla McCalla

Born in New York City to a pair of Haitian emigrants and activists, Leyla McCalla developed an early fascination with the country and its culture thanks in part to the time she spent visiting her grandmother there as a child. After moving to Ghana for two years and later graduating from NYU, McCalla eventually drifted south to New Orleans, where she planned to make a living playing cello on the streets of the French Quarter. By that point, McCalla had already risen to fame as a member of the GRAMMY Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group she’d spent two years touring and recording with before leaving to pursue her own career, and her dedication to illuminating the Black roots of American culture was only growing stronger. In 2014, she generated considerable buzz with her critically acclaimed solo debut, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes. Two more similarly celebrated releases followed, 2016’s A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey, and 2019’s Capitalist Blues, which yielded even more glowing reviews and profiles, as did her 2019 debut with Our Native Daughters, a collaborative project featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, and Allison Russell.

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