Born in New York to Haitian parents, and now living in New Orleans, Leyla McCalla delivers an uncontrived blend of rhythm and folk on her debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, out this week. Behind each pluck of her cello and every soulfully sung lyric, there is cultural influence and unfiltered emotion. Whether singing in English or Creole, Leyla's intent is clear; she wants you to feel.
Driven by the blues and the writings of Langston Hughes, Leyla takes you on a journey of love, heartbreak, and redemption. In songs such as “Heart of Gold” (above) and “Love Again Blues,” the absence of complexity in her lyrics is no oversight. It is a testament to the beauty of simplicity, which is also evident in Leyla’s stage presence. She is not glammed up and adorned with unnecessary distractions. Like Vari-Colored Songs, Leyla appears soulful, refined, and full of life.
Simona Stith is the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at Travel + Leisure.