The daughter of Haitian emigrants and activists, Folk singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla was born in Queens, New York City. The critically acclaimed artist is best known for her solo work, but as a cellist, she has been an integral part of numerous musical projects including Our Native Daughters and the Grammy Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. Leyla’s musical journey began at New York University where she studied cello and chamber music. In 2010, she relocated to New Orleans. Combining her Haitian Folk and Classical influences – and her skills on cello, guitar, and banjo – she began performing her music on the streets of New Orleans.

In 2011, Leyla joined Durham, North Carolina-based old-time Folk / American group Carolina Chocolate Drops. The Grammy Award-winning group was led by Rhiannon Giddens and Leyla played cello and tenor banjo in the group until 2013. McCalla released her debut solo album, VARI-COLORED SONGS (A TRIBUTE TO LANTSTON HUGHES) in 2013. She followed that with A DAY FOR THE HUNTER, A DAY FOR THE PREY (2016), RECORDED LIVE AT 2016 NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL (2016), THE CAPITALIST BLUES (2019), and BREAKING THE THERMOMETER (2022).  While releasing her own albums, she collaborated with Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah, and her old Carolina Chocolate Drops bandmate Rhiannon Giddens in the group Our Native Daughters, releasing the album SONGS OF OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS in 2019.

In 2024, Leyla McCalla returns with SUN WITHOUT THE HEAT, her first solo album since 2022. Drawing inspiration from the writings of Black feminist Afrofuturist thinkers including Octavia Butler, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Adrienne Maree Brown, the album is an emotionally powerful album that brings several genres together and creates one worldly sound. With tracks like “Scaled to Survive,” “Give Yourself a Break,” “Take Me Away,” and the title track, McCalla proves that she is a truly unique individual who easily connects with others through her music. Joined by Pete Olyciw (bass, piano), Nahum Zdybel (guitar), Shawn Myers (drums), and Maryam Qudus (keyboards), Leyla continues to pay tribute to the past while also embracing the future on SUN WITHOUT THE HEAT.



Available NOW!