Leah Coloff is a pretty impressive musician. David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Debby Harry all thought so when she played with them – so did the judges who recently awarded her a Grammy.

But then there’s family.

Clearing out the family home after the death of her father she came across an old letter to her music tutor. 

In it her dad Lawrence, himself a music teacher, wrote that Leah just didn’t have what it takes to be a professional.

Perfectionism sucks. Family expectations cause confusion. Maybe unexpected discoveries can set you freeand even be something to sing about.

This year Leah will be on stage in Edinburgh telling her story through spoken word, song and music.

Super Second Rate is a show that’s funny, poignant and humane from a woman who the New York Timessays “plays and sings with artful angularity and a rock-inflected assertiveness”.

Leah says: “In every family there’s a set of values. What your parents think is important in life. They are NOT written down and posted on the wall. But everyone in the family knows what you gotta do to belong and get love. This show is about unwinding the family rules and coming to peace with these expectations.

“The implicit rules in my family were: PLAY MUSIC! BE BETTER THAN OTHER PEOPLE AT MUSIC! But be humble, don’t act like you’re special! Just be better and special, but with humility! Super Second Rate puts that aside in favour of being yourself and doing what you want in the way you want to do it. That’s better!”

Raised in the USA’s Pacific northwest, Leah’s music interweaves her classical roots with 70s punk rock in a style she identifies as CLUNK.

In the classical realm, Leah has worked with contemporary composers including Philip Glass, Ted Hearne, Joel Thome, Sean Friar and Michael Gordon

She has also performed and recorded with artists including Trey Anastasio, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Michael Cerveris, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Damon Albarn, Ziggy Marley, Linda Thompson, Dean & Britta, Angelique Kidjo, Nancy Sinatra and Mark Mulcahy.

Then there are her own songs and music, which have been characterised as honest, sensual, funny, brutal, pissed-off, beautiful and chilly sweet. 

And this year the multiple award-winning Leah, and her colleagues in the Scorchio Quartet and Tonality, took the Grammy for best new age, ambient or chant album for So She Howls by composer Carla Patullo.

Leah was also a member of the seven-piece onstage band for Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! from its run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to the Tony Award winning production on Broadway. 


Notes for editors

About Leah Coloff

  • Leah studied with Irene Sharp at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and with Bernard Greenhouse at The New England Conservatory of Music.  
  • She is a professional cellist most recently performing as a member of the seven-piece onstage band in Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! from its run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to the Tony Award winning production of Oklahoma! Broadway. She can also be heard on the Grammy nominated Oklahoma!cast Recording.
  • Leah was the cellist for Ted Hearne’s The Source, produced by Beth Morrison Productions for Brooklyn Academy of Music and REDCAT in Los Angeles and can be heard on The Source (New Amsterdam), selected as one of the best classical recordings of 2015 by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
  • Her multimedia autobiographical song cycle, ThisTree, premiered in the 2019 Prototype Festival and received commissioning, development, and production support from HERE as part of its artist residency programme. The New York Times declared ThisTree, “…forbidding stuff, but Ms. Coloff’s touch is light, her presence warm – she is, simply, honest”.  I Care If You Listen expressed, “Coloff’s ability to merge the private and the collective allowed the entire piece of music-theater to become genuinely sincere without being overly sentimental.”  
  • Leah is a regular performer and band member for the Obie Award winning the Secret City and cellist for the Scorchio String Quartet, featured in the award-winning documentary, Inside the Perfect Circle: The Odyssey of Joel Thome. 

Listings Details

  • Venue: theSpace@Surgeons’ Hall, Haldane Theatre (Venue 53)
  • Time: 17:20
  • Dates: Previews August 2-4. Main run Aug 5-10, 12-17
  • Duration: 50 min
  • Ticket prices: Previews £10, £8 concessions. Main run £12, concessions £10
  • Advisory: Age 12+ guideline
  • Warnings: Contains distressing or potentially triggering themes
  • Tickets: https://tickets.edfringe.com

Cast and creatives

  • Performer: Leah Coloff
  • Director: Raquel Cion

Instagram: @sawlimbedleah  

Twitter: @saw_limbed_leah 

Facebook: facebook.com/coloffmusic

Website: https://www.leahcoloff.com

For media information contact Matthew Shelley at SFPR on 07786 704299 or at [email protected].