Leila Adu

Leila Adu

Composer-performer, Composer-performer

Composer-performer Leila Adu has firmly carved her name into the space where electropop, avant-classical and singer-songwriter meet. Hailing from New Zealand, Britain and Ghana, Leila has performed her original piano songs and improvisations alongside international artists at festivals and venues in the UK, mainland Europe, the US, Russia, Ghana and Asia. She has released five acclaimed albums, including two for Italian National Radio and ‘Dark Joan’ (recorded by Steve Albini); was voted MTV Iggy’s Artist of the Week, and has performed on BBC’s World Service solo and produced a short-film and documentary soundtrack with screenings on BBC Knowledge TV channel and the NZ Film Festival, as well as performing in Luscious Jackson on ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’


Leila Adu’s music has been compared to Nina Simone and Joanna Newsome and she has been described by WNYC’s John Schaefer as “a genuinely good singer, with a velvety, soulful voice.” 2019 was big for Leila, as she did everything from being featured in the song “Asylums for the feelings” as heard in the Playstation 4 game Death Stranding, to getting featured on Giles Peterson’s BBC 6 radio show with her band, Lucked In.


She has composed for Bang on a Can, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Brentano String Quartet, So Percussion, Gamelan Padhang Moncar, Orchestra Wellington, as well as performing and having compositions performed at Ojai Music Festival and acted as a co-composer on the 2020 opera Magdalene. She received BMus from Victoria University of Wellington, and her doctorate in music composition at Princeton University, and is currently and assistant professor in the music technology program in the music and performing arts professions department at Steinhardt, New York University. Adu taught music to prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility as a faculty member of Musicambia – music for social change, and currently sits on the board of directors for  Die Jim Crow Records the country’s first record label for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.


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