Folk Alley Sessions Archives: Leyla McCalla

(This Session was originally published in March, 2014.)

The folk and roots music world is full of cross-generational collaboration. But it usually takes the form of folksingers pairing up with other folksingers, borrowing from a long musical tradition. It’s another thing altogether to take words written long ago and give them musical life. Leyla McCalla does just that on her album, ‘Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes.’ Though the collection includes a balance of her original arrangements with Haitian folk songs, what’s most intriguing is the way she built many of the songs around Hughes’ poetry.

Leyla paid a visit to Folk Alley in February of 2014 to perform songs from ‘Vari-Colored Songs’ live in the Beehive Productions studio. The album was re-released in 2020 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.



Interview and Performance


Heart of Gold

Changing Tide

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