Leyla McCalla does not have a smooth voice. It is instead, deep and melodically quirky. However, her songs are very rich. They tell stories of Langston Hughes’ poetry and Haitian folklore.
In 2014, she released her album, Vari-Colored Songs: Tribute to Langston Hughes. The project consists of renditions of the famous poet’s poems added to the musical stylings of Leyla. She is a vintage music enthusiast who plays the cello and banjo to the lyrics of her pieces. Her song, “Heart of Gold,” was the first song I listened to and it reminded of the rawness and unforgiving truth inserted into many of Hughes’ poems; fusing together jazz, folk and poetry.
Although her album was released over a year ago, Leyla is still under the radar. However, to her New Orleans home, she is a regular face to see, singing on street corners or playing compilations of Bach and other classic composers on her cello.
To find out more information on Leyla McCalla, check out her site.
Ieshia McDonald is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she pursued an emphasis in magazine writing. She enjoys reporting, as well as writing poetry and screenplays. She is also an avid reader and music enthusiast. She currently resides in Kansas City, Mo.