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I'm writing from Houston, Texas where I'm on tour with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. We are opening for the Dave Matthews Band tonight at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands, TX. I've had more than a few wild experiences with these guys, playing at the Library of Congress for a night of ASCAP songwriters and performers, playing at the Bottle Rock Festival in Napa, CA where I met Wyatt Cenac in the food line, playing with Regina Carter at the San Francisco Jazz Center where we ran into my personal civil rights hero, Angela Davis....i'm reeling!
But the reason I'm writing is to keep you updated on the progress of my album. We are so close to printing!! I am going to be signing a deal with a record label in France, Dixiefrog Records, who are going to release Vari-Colored Songs in Europe in October! Yay! Yesterday, I was able to preview the artwork and it looks absolutely gorgeous!! I couldn't be more excited. Thanks to all your support, the album will be accompanied by a 32 page booklet including all of the words to the poems and translations of the Haitian songs from Kreyol to English.
That said, I have been working with the company that holds the publishing rights to the Langston Hughes Estate to make sure that I have permission to publish these songs in the first place! A huge deal if overlooked, but it's all going to work out.
Also thanks to you all, I'll be ordering about 3,000 copies of the record for distribution in the United States. That includes all of my kickstarter pre-orders and it's looking like I'll be able to hire a publicist for the release of the record, scheduled for Langston Hughes' Birthday, February 1st, 2014. Lucky for you all, you'll be getting your copies and rewards as soon as I get the hard copies in my hand! That means, you'll have them way before the release.
I am also excited to announce that I'll be playing a run of duo dates with Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops in the UK and France this fall. The tour will commence at the Cecil Sharpe House in London on Oct, 3rd, 2013...my birthday! :) We'll be playing ten dates in the UK and three dates in France. I'll have that info posted on my website soon......you can also keep updated with me on my facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leyla-McCalla/223096397700628
That's it for now! Just want you to know that your support has made all of these things possible and I know I've said this for practically every update, but I really can't wait to get this album in your hands!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Love, love, love!!
I'm writing to you from Alexandria, VA where I'll be playing with the Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Birchmere tonight!
Last week, I went back up to Joe Bass' studio and did the finally editing and mixing on Vari-Colored Songs. Though most of the songs were recorded live in the studio, some of my special guests came and overdubbed their parts, meaning, they recorded over a pre-existing track. So it was fun listening to all the pedal steel and tenor banjo and fiddle overdubs and choosing my favorite takes and/or moments. Mixing basically means giving a really close listen to each song and figuring out the levels of each track, i.e.. should the voice be at the forefront of the track? Is the guitar too loud or too soft? Does the cello sound as full as it could?
The songs have also been lightly mastered, also by Joe Bass. That means that the level of the album, song to song, has been sort-of standardized, so one song isn't all in your face and another one sounds totally different.
So many bits and pieces to the process and a huge learning experience for me. Luckily, the performances, what was captured during the recording sessions, are excellent and so that makes the rest of the process much easier!!
I'm now working on figuring out the flow of the record and what the order of the songs should be. Also working on a booklet with all of the lyrics in the liner notes, choosing photographs and artwork for the album. I'm going to put together the best package that I possibly can.
Luckily the rest of the project can be worked on remotely as I'll be on tour with the Carolina Chocolate Drops for the rest of the year. We are currently doing a north eastern tour and next month we'll be headed out west! You can go to www.carolinachocolatedrops.com for all the info on the tour dates. Would be great to see you out at a show!
As suggested by kickstarter, I will be contacting all of you for your mailing address' and contact info once I have all of the rewards on hand and ready to send!!
Your support has made all of this possible!!! I can never thank you enough and I soooo look forward to sharing this project with you.
ps. Enjoy this poem. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes.
pps. photo of me in Joe's studio by Tim Duffy.
Long time, no talk! It's been a wild past couple of weeks! Lots to catch up on....
I'm quasi back on the road with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I'm writing you from North Carolina, where we'll be playing in Franklin tomorrow night. Last weekend we were in Florida; we played in Tampa, Tallahassee and Ponte Vedra. The weekend before that, we played at UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina and attended the prestigious Grammy Awards in LA for the groups' nomination for Best Folk Album for their 2012 release Leaving Eden, an album I got to sing and play cello on. On the heels of the Grammy's, as I've been recently exploring a lot of Louisiana Creole and Cajun music, I went out to Eunice for Cajun Mardi Gras, which was wild fun! (See pictures below).
When I got home to NOLA last Monday, it was really back to business! I re-recorded one of the songs for Vari-Colored Songs and added a new song with the help of Earl Scioneaux III at Piety Studios and my friends Luke Winslow-King on steel guitar and Cassidy Holden on bass. You can check out some of their music here. www.lukewinslowking.net.
I also overdubbed the incredible Don Vappie playing tenor banjo on one of the Haitian tunes on the album. Here's a video I found on youtube for a sampling of his playing. It was an honor to have him in the studio and most definitely makes that particular song sparkle extra bright! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAtBm1fwVDE
I'm getting ready for my first University sponsored Artist Residency at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. I'll be visiting classes, talking about my work and playing a show at their Rudder Theater. You can read about that more here ---> http://academyarts.tamu.edu/guest-artists-in-residency/leyla-mccalla-february-2013/
In March, I'll be headed back up to Floyd, VA to do a mixing session at Joe's place, which basically means figuring out sound levels and getting everything to sound it's absolute best.
I've been drafting versions of the liner notes and excited to share that my CD package will include all the lyrics and translations of lyrics for these Langston Hughes poems and Haitian songs. This album is so much about the words and it's gonna be really exciting when it's all done.
Still, lots of work to do and I just keep plowing away, trying to get it all done before my tour schedule with the Drops really picks up in April.
Soon enough I'll be having reward packaging parties with friends to get all this stuff out to YOU!
Thinking of your generosity keeps me motivated and focused and determined to get it all done in the next couple of months!
Thank you thank you thank you. Things are busy and coming together!!
oh and Happy birthday Nina simone!!
If you haven't already "liked" me on facebook, the link is here :::: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leyla-McCalla/223096397700628
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Dec 5, 2012 - Jan 4, 2013 (30 days)
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