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Vari​-​Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes

by Leyla McCalla

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Remastered audio on standard weight black LP in a single sleeve jacket featuring redesigned packaging from the original 2014 release. Liner notes included. NOTE: "As I Grew Older / Dreamer" only available as a digital download song.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 10 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $19.98 USD or more 

     

1.
2.
3.
Mèsi Bondye 02:26
4.
Girl 02:51
5.
6.
Too Blue 02:28
7.
Manman Mwen 03:19
8.
9.
10.
11.
Rose Marie 02:58
12.
Latibonit 03:49
13.
Search 03:20
14.
Lonely House 03:27
15.

about

Leyla McCalla’s 'Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes' is a celebration of the complexity of Black culture and identity, and a tribute to the legacy of poet and thinker Langston Hughes. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, McCalla sets Hughes’ poems to her own spare yet profound compositions. She juxtaposes these with arrangements of folk songs from Haiti, the first independent Black nation and the homeland of her parents, tapping into the nuances of Black experience. McCalla’s music elegantly weaves Haitian influences together with American folk music, just as Hughes incorporated Black vernacular into his remarkable poetry, and the way the Haitian Kreyòl is a beacon for the survival of African identity through the brutal legacy of colonialism. This is music of reclamation, imbued with a quiet power that grapples with the immense weight of history.

"Vari-Colored Songs" was originally had a limited release in 2014, with the New York Times proclaiming that “[McCalla’s] magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable.” The recording is being brought to a wider audience by Smithsonian Folkways at a time when the history McCalla explores is more relevant than ever. As she states in the album’s liner notes, “The wisdom and truth that Langston Hughes continues to provide us through his prolific output inspires us to celebrate the assumedly mundane and stigmatized parts of our society. The future has always been uncertain, and it has always been up to us to push for the changes that we want to see in the world.”

credits

released October 16, 2020

Produced by Leyla McCalla and Joseph Dejarnette
Recorded by Joseph Dejarnette at Studio 808a, Floyd, VA, and Earl Sciouneaux at Piety Studios, New Orleans, LA
Mixed by Joseph Dejarnette
“As I Grew Older / Dreamer” recorded by Nikhil Yerawadekar in Bushwick in 2010
Mastered by Bruce Barielle
Tintype photos by Tim Duffy; Haiti photos by Leyla McCalla
Annotated by Leyla McCalla and Jean-Pierre Bruneau
Smithsonian Folkways executive producers: Huib Schippers and John Smith
Production manager: Mary Monseur
Production assistant: Kate Harrington
Editorial assistance by Carla Borden
Art direction, design and layout by Visual Dialogue

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about

Leyla McCalla New Orleans, Louisiana

Leyla McCalla finds inspiration from her past and present. Whether it is her Haitian heritage or her adopted home of New Orleans, she — a bilingual multi-instrumentalist and alumna of Grammy award-winning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops — has risen to produce a distinctive sound that reflects the union of her roots and experience. ... more

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