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 new album, ‘Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes.’ Though the disc 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 is now re-released for 2020 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Interview and Performance
"Heart of Gold"
- Leyla McCalla website
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- 'Vari-Colored Songs' available at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
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