Two young women, both in their mid-20s, both amateur musicians: I came across Amanda Dillard through a friend who pointed out her YouTube video. Leyla McCalla caught my attention not long ago in New Orleans.
Here’s Amanda, a 24-year-old graduate of Radford University from Roanoke, Va. She says she was “inspired by a Dolly Parton version of the song.” A percussionist by training, Dillard says she’s been “on a bluegrass kick.” She made the video, she says, to “explore my creativity” while “stuck at home recovering from multiple major surgeries.” Sounds like a total recovery to me.
Here’s Leyla, playing on a beat-up cello in the middle of Royal Street, a block over from Bourbon Street, in the French Quarter. She’s from Queens, N.Y., a 26-year-old N.Y.U. graduate. McCalla’s Web site gives more details about her background and musical training. Bach’s “Cello Suite #1 In G” is not the sort of tune you usually hear in N’awlins’ honky tonk.