Why Leyla McCalla should come to Haiti with her vari-colored kreyol folk songs

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 26, 2013

514-500Listening to Leyla McCalla on Genevieve Tudor’s Sunday Folk, I felt like she just had to be in Haiti. (Every continent we’ve been on, Genevieve has been with us; a bit of a Sunday ritual for years. If we’re able – and lucky with timing and the internet – we’re able to listen live at 1300 EST, else we hear last week’s cached show. It goes out on BBC Radio Shropshire, Hereford & Worcester but it has a repertoire and a reach that extends much beyond the English Midlands).

McCalla was singing Kamèn sa w fè? the Sunday before last and on September 22, it was Manman mwen. I promptly looked her up. Her Facebook page was illuminating. She’s “a cellist and singer living in New Orleans, Lousiana. Her debut album, Vari-Colored Songs, is set for a February 2014 release.”

haitiWhat it didn’t say is that she has a thrilling voice, melodious and low, like a slow swallow of a deeply aromatic and very velvety coffee mousse. Possibly with a slug of dark chocolate.

And that she used to be with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which started out highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping the US’s popular music. The New York Times once described the Drops’ concerts as “an end-to-end display of excellence… They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.”

Back to Leyla McCalla though. Apparently, she’s off to Europe shortly. Would that she stopped off in Haiti on the way back.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac