Arts & Context: Leyla McCalla and Kiyoko McCraeOpen To The Public
Haitian-American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla and director Kiyoko McCrae discuss their new multidisciplinary project and Duke Performances commission: Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever.
Drop by the Ruby on Fridays at noon for a casual art talk and free lunch to learn about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the creative process, careers in the arts, and more.
About the Speakers
Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in French, Haitian Creole, and English, and plays cello, tenor banjo, and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun, and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful, and witty—it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive, and contemporary. McCalla’s debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, was named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines magazine. It was followed by the critically acclaimed 2016 album A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, an extended exploration of the themes of social justice and pan-African consciousness that marked her debut. In January 2019, McCalla released Capitalist Blues, her first full-band album, which examines, through McCalla’s eyes, the divided sociopolitical climate in the United States.
Kiyoko McCrae is a theater maker, filmmaker, and musician. She recently co-directed Landscape with Figures with Andrew Ondrejcak for its regional premiere at Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. She co-directed and co-wrote critically acclaimed immersive theater production, The Stranger Disease with Goat in the Road Productions and produced Vessels, which is premiering at the Annenberg Center for the Arts in March 2019. She is former Managing Director of Junebug Productions, where she directed Lockdown and produced Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue (NEFA NTP recipient). Her short documentary film Artist in Exile premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival in 2018, where she also won the Audience Award for Best Louisiana Short for her film Black Back. Kiyoko has toured nationally and internationally with By and By String Band, My Graveyard Jaw, and as a solo artist, writing and performing her original music. Kiyoko received her BFA in Theatre Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
From 2015 to 2019, Laura Wagner worked as the Radio Haiti Project Archivist at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, where she created a publicly-accessible, trilingual digital archive of Haiti’s first independent radio station, Radio Haïti-Inter. She also served as the dramaturg for Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever. She has a PhD in cultural anthropology, focusing on people’s experiences of humanitarian aid and displacement after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and is also a fiction and non-fiction writer. Her first novel, Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go, was published in 2015.