Basic Folk Podcast: Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla Basic Folk Podcast Cindy Howes

I had a lot to talk about with Leyla McCalla! The New Orleans resident has already had an impressive career with her solo work, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Our Native Daughters. However, it seems like she’s just getting started. I literally had 9 pages of questions for her as we sat in my Airbnb during Folk Alliance (you can hear about 4 trolleys rolling by the windows). Leyla is smart, well spoken, and so easy to get along with.

This interview felt like a barnburner (if you can label interviews like that). We covered her activist roots growing up with three very politically active adults in her life (mother, father and grandfather). She talked about her connection to Haiti and spending a summer there with her grandmother. She is known for her incredible cello playing and it’s so crazy to hear that she started her cello journey by mistaking it for another instrument when she was a child. She talked about her feelings of being a black Haitian- American playing old time music that has deep roots in black America, even though it is seen as being a white genre. She talks about how The Carolina Chocolate Drops opened up that world to her: through music and conversation with her bandmates. We talked about Our Native Daughters, her band with Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, and Allison Russell. All this and more! This was an awesome interview!

I hope you enjoy.

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