Leyla McCalla is sharing the final track in a series of singles that reflect upon the struggle for freedom in our society today. Originally recorded by Haitian political protest singer and folk musician Manno Charlemagne, "Zanj” is originally sung in Haitian Kreyol. ““Zanj” always caught my ear and brought a lump to my throat,” McCalla explains. “The poetry of the Kreyol didn’t carry into English, and so we ended up rewriting the verses while trying our best to capture the spirit of the song.”
Featuring fellow New Orleans artist Alynda Segarra of Hurray For The Riff Raff, listen to McCalla’s thoughtful rendition below.
Listen to “Zanj”: https://youtu.be/8X_Liv9p1R8?si=QHBqX80yDq6jEUFU
“Though Charlemagne has been likened to a version of Bob Dylan or Bob Marley of Haiti, to me, this doesn’t fully encapsulate the specificity of his experience - living through the extreme political repression of the Duvalier regime.,” McCalla continued, explaining Charlemagne’s importance and influence on her. “Undoubtedly, one of Haiti’s foremost poet laureates, his songs have connected me more deeply with the beauty and nuances of Haitian Creole as well as our collective humanity.”
Last month McCalla shared a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Crown”; she felt strongly compelled to record the song due to the power of its recurring refrain “you can’t please everybody.” The song became a personal mantra as she navigated heartbreak, outrage, grief and hope. Listen to it HERE.
McCalla is also the Artist-In-Residence at the University of Richmond and a research artist at the Amistad-Rivers Artist Research Residency in New Orleans. She will begin a run of European shows on November 2 that will reach France, Germany, Switzerland and more All upcoming dates are listed below.
Info & tickets at https://leylamccalla.com/tour
EU TOUR DATES
11/2 - Utrecht, Netherlands @ Cloud 9
11/3 - The Hague, Netherlands @ Crossing Border Festival
11/4 - Groningen, Netherlands @ Take Root
11/7 - Orleans, France @ Scene National d’Orleans
11/8 - Artigues-pres-bordeaux, France @ Le Cuvier de Feydeau
11/9 - Bouguenais, France @ Pianock’tail
11/10 - Sotteville-les-rouen, France @ Trianon Transatlantique
11/11 - Landsberg Am Lech, Germany @ Stadttheater Landsberg am Lech
11/12 - Zurich, Switzerland @ Moods
11/14 - Freiburg, Germany @ Jazzhaus Freiburg