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  • Writer's pictureKristine England

New Music Monday: Leyla McCalla

Singer/cellist Leyla McCalla has embraced many musical traditions during her career. After leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a Grammy-winning group renowned for traditional American roots and folk music, she turned her attention to her solo career and her own family heritage.

On her fourth album, Breaking The Thermometer, she explores the story of Radio Haiti (led by prominent anti-corruption journalist Jean Dominique,​​ who was murdered for his activism). Born in NYC to Haitian activist parents, her choice of subject matter for this Duke University commission isn’t surprising. Originally a theatrical work, it evolved into this record, on which she plays cello and banjo and sings in both Creole and Engish. This featured track (written by the great Caetano Veloso) is one of the latter.

In addition to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, she’s been involved with Our Native Daughters and led her own trio (of which her husband, Daniel Tremblay, is also a member) and quartet. Her instrumental gifts are impressive, and as a vocalist, she is powerful, emotional, and personal -- everything one could want in a singer.

"You Don't Know Me"

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