Formats and Editions
On her new album Sun Without the Heat, McCalla brings more playfulness and joy than she has on previous records when she speaks to the concerns that have shaped her career, mainly including an ethos in which you must look back at lost and erased histories before you can embrace a forward vision of Afrofuturism and the importance of music making to heal and forge relationships across differences. Across Sun Without the Heat’s ten tracks, she achieves this with music that combines jazz, Haitian Twoubadou, American blues, folk and Brazilian Tropicalismo.
Born in New York City to Haitian emigrants and activists, McCalla possesses a stunning mastery of the cello, tenor banjo and guitar. A founding member of Our Native Daughters alongside Rhiannon Giddens, Amysthyst Kiah and Allison Russell and an alumna of Grammy award-winning band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, McCalla has also received considerable praise and attention for her solo works, including 2014’s Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, which prompted the New York Times to rave that “her voice is disarmingly natural, and her settings are elegantly succinct” and 2022’s Breaking The Thermometer (4/5 review from The Guardian).
Lyrically on Sun Without the Heat, McCalla draws from the writings of Black feminist Afrofuturist thinkers Octavia Butler, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Adrienne Maree Brown, among others, with frequent themes being grief, connection and motherhood. Like these authors, McCalla is thinking hard about collaboration as a means of creative expression, community thinking, personal salvation, and rectifying social injustice. “The stories we’ve been told about ourselves and the stories that we have to learn to undo the stories we’ve been told,” she explains.“Sometimes these are painful stories to tell. This is especially vivid in the title song, “Sun Without the Heat.””