Leila Hegazy grew up playing singing and playing music. After a short stint with the clarinet, she moved on to the piano.
“As a singer, I wanted to be independent, to be able to accompany myself. Six months after I started learning the piano, I started playing my own songs. I was eleven years old,” she shared. For the Staten Island native, music was “a place where I could fit in.”
Shortly after she found her way to playing songs, 9/11 happened. She’s half Italian-American and half Egyptian, and it wasn’t easy being a part of an Arab community at that time. “I was heavy into music during that time, because it was a place for me. I wrote about another place, where people weren’t as judgmental. It was an escape.”
A few years later, her escape had become her life. She attended LaGuardia high school in Manhattan, known as the “Fame” school. As a vocal major, her songwriting really developed. “I was studying with a Julliard-trained composer and he would tell me to go home every night and write a song. so I would, but the next day he’d tell me to write a better one,” she laughed. “He was hard on me, but he helped me find my voice.”
She released an EP in college. “Performing live is so different from the recording process. I learned so much.” Two years later, her album came out and now, she’s playing shows in the northeast, including the Apollo. “Everyone told me to sing a cover, but I did something original because I had to be myself. I came in second, so I guess it was the right choice.”
“This is hard work,” she shared, “but you get out of it what you put in.” Check out tracks from her album below, and keep up with her on her website.
“The Reason Why”
“You Light Up a Room”