Music Matters Festival Sri Lanka-Live Videos

Leila Adu performed two main stage nights and on experimental night at Music Matters Festival, a festival dedicated to experimental music and traditional music from around the world in Columbo Sri Lanka. Leila Adu performed her original songs with locally based kiwi bass player, Isaac Smith and Sri Lankan drummer, Sum Suraweera, who are both active in the local new music community, have founded a music school and a local record label. They featured on the front cover of the Columbo Sunday Times and performances were captured by video artist Amila Galappaththi,as part of Ayaale social and creative activist collective.

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Leila Adu and Sum Suraweera performing ‘Ode to the Unknown Factory Worker’ on Music Matters Festival Mainstage Day 2.

Adu performed with guitarist, Sarani Perera, rapper, Shafni Awam and drummer, Sum Suraweera, as part of Music Matters Festival’s Experimental Night at the Goethe Institut in Columbo.

Adu also participated in two collaborative music writing and learning workshops with traditional Tamil singers and drummers from Batticolo along musicians from Music Matters Columbo and improvisors from Austria and Germany. See Transcoastal Collective’s debut performance at Music Matters Festival below.

Performance with Orchestra Wellington

Orchestra Wellington Little Russian

On June 20, 2015, Leila Adu, sang her orchestral piece, Rain as Blessings Fall, written as Orchestra Wellington’s Emerging-Composer-In-Residence-2014, to a packed house of sixteen hundred people at Wellington’s historic Michael Fowler Center. Listen to ‘Rain as Blessings Fall,’ Orchestra Wellington with Leila Adu from the live broadcast on Radio New Zealand.

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She stands pretty motionless, expressionless, yet seeming totally self-possessed and confident. I’m sure her demeanour persuaded most of the audience that we were going to hear something unusual and significant, and there’s no doubt about the forces of personality and character that work in her favour in any role she chooses to adopt.

Her voice arrived first and for a moment seemed to dominate the orchestra, even though it appeared not to be amplified: it’s an engaging voice that switches several times into a surprising falsetto which was presumably to reflect the spirituality of the words. After a little while, the shape of the piece emerged: limited amount of melodic material, mostly consisting of descending scales in a rhythm that might be described as part-time jazzy, related more to the idiom of the mid-century American musical than to jazz itself. The words sometimes sounded as if being forced into existing musical patterns…

One had the feeling in the end, trying to weigh the music, assess its value, characterise it, that given its base in Buddhist philosophy and morality, the standards that are applied to western music were irrelevant. That it’s not meant to be judged as we might judge a sonata or an opera, but perhaps rather, a madrigal or a protest song, where the message or the spirit is more important than the artistic clothing in which it’s dressed. Read more: Review by Lindis Taylor in ‘Middle C’

 The thread, always, is her voice. And Blessings featured a Buddhist text by Kalu Rinpoche and revised by Chime Shore (an early meeting with Shore had been a formative experience in Adu’s life) with Leila singing against the rise and fall of the orchestra. It was mesmerising as the voice became a mantra when singing of mantras, as the strings and horns moved around in a constantly modulating piece, tempo shifting, keys changing, it had busyness but never bluster.
Read more: Review by Simon Sweetman in ‘Off the Tracks’

 Orchestra Wellington Leila Marc

Musicambia—for Social Change in Incarcerated Communties

This year I am honored to be part of Musicambia, a project teaching music to inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York. I am teaching music theory and vocal techniques along with fellow composer, Elliot Cole; instrument lessons are given by jazz pianist John Chin, brass by trumpet player Thomas Bergeron and strings by viola player and founder of Musicambia, Nate Schram. We have been working hard to create a comprehensive music curriculum at Sing Sing Prison alongside composer Daniel Levy and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. It is a life changing project for us and for all the incarcerated people we work with.

We have been raising funds through Kickstarter, as well as Musicambia’s Faculty Concerts, the first of which ias at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC on Sunday December 14. Musicambia is a charitable trust and is only made possible through your continuing generous support.

Love and Mettā,

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Leila Adu’s Ghanaian Roots: Music and Research in Accra

Leila Adu received a (PIIRS) Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies grant towards a visit to Accra, Ghana, for her PhD research on electronic music and hip-hop producers. Leila’s father is London-based a Ghanaian poet, playwright and musician and she is keen to reconnect with her culture on her first visit in fifteen years.

On her stay, Leila is also playing at Republic Bar and Grill, a hotbed of culture for local Ghanaians, many of whom have returned from living abroad, as well as expats. (Read more about Republic’s contemporary take on Ghanaian food in this Guardian article A foodie revolution cooking in West Africa).


Republic has weekly live performances on Wednesdays curated by Omon Blanks, as well as DJs at the weekend, curated by, Akwaaba Music’s Benjamin Le Brave. French/American, Le Brave founded Akwaaba Music in San Francisco, and moved the label to Accra three years ago; Akwaaba (“welcome” in Ashanti Twi) is dedicated to making African music easier to access worldwide through releasing, distributing, licensing and growing an online presence in a way that is fair for the artists.

Leila is collaborating with Accra artists and has recorded two tracks at 2 1 Entertainment with Ghanaian poet, Kwame Write.

Belts And Whistles Tape Label Launch: The Miz’Ries Album

All About Jazz News
Published: 2014-07-18

Belts and Whistles hits Cameo Gallery on Wednesday July 23 at 10pm for their joint label launch and album release party. The Brooklyn and NJ based electronic and improvised tape cassette label drops its first album, Emotional Performance Motorcycle, from The Miz’Ries.

Electro-kraut digital hardcore supergroup, The Miz’Ries: uber-americo noise nerd Quinn Collins plays broken records on a turntable with crazy effects, mad genius inventor Jeff Snyder plays his own analog synth creation whilst Neuseelander songstress Leila Adu sings and plays electronic drum pads. The Miz’Ries have been described as “a noise band that plays 3-minute pop songs”, and as “the music that plays in the club the bad guys hang out in”.


Over the past year — singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, improvisor and Miz’Ries’ member — Leila Adu has toured New Zealand, Japan and featured in Spin Magazine with Lord Echo aired backing vocals and percussion with popular 90′s alt-rock band and Beastie Boys’ labelmates, Luscious Jackson, on MTV VH1 and Late Night with David Letterman. Leila previously won MTV Iggy’s Artist of the Week, is this year’s Orchestra Wellington’s (New Zealand) Emerging-Composer-in-Residence and recorded albums with Steve Albini and for the Italian National Radio. As founder and lead designer of Snyderphonics, Jeff Snyder designs and builds unusual electronic musical instruments including the Manta, which is played by over 150 musicians around the world; the JD-1 Keyboard/Sequencer, which was commissioned as a specialty controller for Buchla synthesizers; and the custom analog modular synthesizer on which he performs in The Miz’Ries. He frontsOwen Lake and the Tragic Loves as his electro-country alter-ego. The Miz’Ries turntablist, Quinn Collins is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music combining rigorous formal processes with rock energy. His music has been performed by ensembles such as the orkest “de ereprijs,” members of Bang on a Can, TRANSIT, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Loadbang and TV Buddha.

Brooklyn based, Tristan Shepherd/Michael Foster Duo kick off the night. Composer, improviser and turntablist from Dearborn, MI, Tristan Shepherd most recently, curated “Incidental Music”, an exhibition of site specific installations and performances at the Fragmental Museum’s project space: a 4 story, 50,000 sq. ft. former zipper factory and has performed at Roulette, MoMA PS1 and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In this pairing, multi-instrumentalist, Michael Foster, plays sax and amplified small objects. Foster works within the fields of free improvisation, composition, noise, punk, and industrial music and video, with gigs and tours with Weasel Walter, Steve Swell, Pascal Niggenkemper, Psychic TV, Airway, Chris Corsano, Spiritualized, Kid Millions, Nate Wooley, Sean Ali, Han Bennink, Marina Rosenfeld. Foster divides his time between Amsterdam and New York. Recent live performances include Michael Foster Live at Smokey Bear Cave on Youtube and Tristan Shepherd Live at the Control Room on Vimeo.

The Cameo Gallery evening ends in a dance party from BABL: a man whose voice box is running on prosthetic peripherals, a man who has outsourced his memory for unprecedented processing power. BABL is a song and a dance calibrated for optimal lumbar gyrational support and skeletal-rhythmic synchronization. He is influenced by the likes of John Zorn, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Pharaoh Sanders, Pharoah Monch, Shostakovich, D’Angelo, Flying Lotus, James Blake, and Bach and has played at The Stone, Carnegie Hall, Lincon Center Out of Doors.

Go into the draw to catch all three acts for free: :WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS at for the joint Tape Release Party for The Miz’Ries and Belts and Whistles Label Launch Party.

93 N 6TH ST
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
DOORS: 10PM, $8

Visit Website | Purchase

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LEILA ADU Aotearoa New Zealand Shows

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Leila was raised in Aotearoa and will be playing a series of shows in intimate venues in the country. She plays first in her hometown of Christchurch at darkroom.

At Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and Technology in Palmerston North, Leila will play songs on Michael Parekowhai’s Venice Biennale 2011 entry, He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river – an ornately carved red Steinway grand piano. Parekowhai’s piece is being exhibited alongside works by Ralph Hotere as part of the Black Rainbow exhibition.


Finally, Leila will perform two songs alongside numerous New Zealand artists, as part of BEYOND THE OHLALA MOUNTAINS | ALAN BRUNTON | POEMS 1968-2002 | BOOK LAUNCH. See details below.

New Zealand LEILA ADU Shows

saturday 15 march, 9pm
Leila Adu
336 St Asaph St

thursday 27th March, 7pm
Leila will musically perform Alan Brunton poetry alongside a huge lineup of artists, see details
Wharekai – Waipapa Marae AK University
16 Wynyard St

sunday 30 march, matinee show
Leila Adu
Te Manawa Museum of Art
346 Main Street
Palmerston North

Lord Echo New Zealand and Japan

Leila features in Lord Echo’s single “Molten Lava” and is singing in the live tour of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as shows in Tokoyo, Niigata and Kyoto, Japan. Check out this sneak preview of the Lord Echo’s Bastard Jazz (New York) and Wonderful Noise (Osaka) release at Spin Magazine: Her voice sounds beamed in from ’60s Brazil, but the production soon ramps up and we find ourselves in the middle of a modern dance floor. Listen and Read More…

saturday 29 march, 12pm – 6pm
Leila sings with Lord Echo
Silo Sessions Presents Lord Echo & Electric Wire Hustle
Silo Park
Corner of Beaumont and Jellicoe Street

Wellington Orchestra’s Emerging Composer-In-Residence 2014

Currently based in New York and in her third year of PhD studies in Composition at Princeton University, Leila has been chosen to compose a work for . Leila will compose a songcycle for her own voice and orchestra to be performed in Orchestra Wellington’s 2015 season Read More at ORCHESTRA WELLINGTON…

Letterman and Luscious Jackson Shows

Leila has been singing backing vocals, as well as playing additional percussion and keyboards for Luscious Jackson, famous for their 90′s hits including “Ladyfingers” and “Naked Eye” and for being the first signing to the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal label. Check out a recent performance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Luscious Jackson’s Shows Coming Up

May 30 — Los Angeles CA — El Rey Theater

May 31 — San Francisco CA — The Independent

June 7 — Boston MA — The Paradise