Fiddler, singer Calvert returns to playhouse for solo show
Leah Calvert is many things, among them a singer-songwriter, as well as an in-demand Atlanta-area fiddler and vocalist.
Coming off a well-received June 2 show where she appeared as a member of the John Driskell Hopkins Band, Calvert’s talents will take center stage when she returns to the George Link Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9.
In addition to her work as a solo artist, Calvert is a member of two of Atlanta’s finest bands, the Dappled Grays and the John Driskell Hopkins Band fronted by Grammy winner and longtime Zac Brown Band member Hopkins.
She’s also shared stages with award-winning artists including Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Kristian Bush (Sugarland) and renowned songwriter Radney Foster.
Calvert’s work with the Dappled Grays has spanned over a decade, during which the group has found an audience in the states and beyond.
They penned music for, and appeared in, Clint Eastwood’s film, Trouble with the Curve, in 2012 and their album, Doin’ My Job, received critical acclaim, charting on both Sirius and XM Radio.
With her new album, Satellite, Calvert moves into uncharted territory, articulating a sound wholly her own.
Though the compositions and vocal stylings offer a humble nod to her acoustic bluegrass roots, the album is musically a departure from this sound. Calvert deftly maneuvers through forms and styles ranging from traditional ballads to blues.
A graduate of Norcross High School, Calvert, without a doubt, came about that special voice through her gene pool.
No sound like that can be cultivated from scratch, but she does give credit to people who helped her improve on what she was born with including finesse with a fiddle.
“My stepdad played in a bluegrass band and asked me what I wanted to play, so I started with the violin. All my parents have been very supportive in my musical career,” she said.
Calvert also credits teachers who influenced her along the way, teaching her professionalism and breath control. With her paternal grandfather being a Highland piper and her maternal grandfather a bluegrass vocalist, there was already some quality breath there to learn how to control.
Calvert says making music is for everybody. She teaches at the Community Music Centers of Atlanta, helping students of all ages and backgrounds cultivate a style of their own in any genre, from classical to country and gypsy to jazz.
“We try to get people into a social-playing community as soon as possible,” she said. “The beauty of playing music is not to be impressive, but to have a social outlet. If there are 10 tunes they can play, they have an hour’s worth of all the fun they can have.”
Sitting around for a period following a canceled tour she was to be part of, Calvert was influenced by the writings of environmental activist Wendell Berry’s How to Be a Poet. Reading the work initially in college, Calvert began to process more about what the core of oneself should be: family.
“Discovering this clarity when the world is distracted by the everyday grind rituals of life and not allowing it to take hold of you is important,” she feels.
Tickets are available by phone at 706-635-5626, online at GilmerArts.com or by visiting the Gilmer Arts Gallery at 207 Dalton Street.