A song for the overworked and underpaid: Listen to Leyla McCalla’s “Capitalist Blues”


“Why does it feel like we’re always swimming upstream?,” banjo-playing New Orleans artist Leyla McCalla shared on “Salon Stage.” The artist’s genre-bending music and forthcoming album “The Capitalist Blues” taps into the real human and emotional tolls of trying to get ahead in every aspect of life.

Blending Haitian culture with New Orleans jazz, McCalla stopped by “Salon Stage” to perform two songs from “The Capitalist Blues,” and one song in Haitian Creole, which she calls “the language of resistance.”

The daughter of Haitian immigrants moved to New Orleans in 2010 and soon found new influences in music from jazz, folk, and blues and culture. She told Salon in an interview, “We often talk about history as if it's over, but history is always repeating itself. Incorporating that idea into my music and creative process came from encountering New Orleans music and jazz.”

When she makes music McCalla is also thinking visually. Regarding her songwriting she said, “When I'm writing a song, or arranging a song, I'm thinking about the best way to share this story that's in the world of this song, and then I wonder what does that world look like and what does that world feel like and what does that world sound like?”

Using only a banjo and her voice, McCalla brings a sauntering tone with the title track from the album, “Capitalist Blues.” Watch the video above to hear a stripped-down version of “Capitalist Blues.” The full album “Capitalist Blues” is out on January 25.

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