Partners in music as in life for 27 years, they have spent the decades developing a style that is completely their own and one that’s forged from one simple precept,” if you step just a little bit off the trail, everything gets a whole lot more interesting”. They coalesced in Los Angeles, CA, a joining of two musicians with wildly diverse backgrounds. It wasn’t a collaboration that came out of a tradition of voice and cello duos because as far as they knew there weren’t any others - no! this was a duo built on loves.  Love of the tone of a cello, the way it moves the molecules in your body, love of the voice and its ability to reach deeper into the cosmic soup and find the hidden emotion more than most things musical or otherwise.  Love for each other, and the spectacular things that happen when two master musicians share all of themselves in their writing and in their performance.  Their work is intricate, strong, and undiluted; theirs is a truly rare and exciting musical experiment. 

“Chance” - forged by the metropolis, sustained by the wilderness.


A second Chance

Maybe not the Father and Mother of the Alternative String movement but certainly close enough to play em’ on T.V.  “Chance” started in L.A. in an era when cello players such as Ed Willett, spawn of the highest levels of classical training and experience, hid their clandestine non-Beethoven projects for fear of being blackballed. It was a time when singers like Cheryl Leah, who insisted on developing their own original voices were sent packing for fear their independent attitudes would infect whatever flavor-of-the-month sound was being replicated at the moment.  Through all of it they emerged scathed but not deterred, as unwavering in their pursuit of the untried as a marathon runner in snow boots.  Here comes “Chance”, as potent and undiluted as the day they began.

Ed Willett - Co-founder

Ed Willett is a cellist, guitarist, composer, arranger, and vocalist. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he studied with cellist Eleanor Schoenfeld. While studying in Los Angeles, he had the great honor of being chosen principal cellist for the American Youth Symphony under Maestro Mehli Mehta and to participate in the world renowned Piatigorsky master class for cellists.

After graduation from U.S.C. he freelanced as a studio musician, participating in hundreds of recording sessions as well as performing in numerous symphony orchestras, including the Honolulu Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony, the Glendale Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra. He toured for several years for Columbia Artists Management with the Clarion Trio as part of their Community Concert Series until in 1986 he co-founded "Chance" with vocalist Cheryl Leah.

From 1986-1993 he worked in Los Angeles as a studio and orchestral musician as well as a member of the "Chance" quartet which lead to a record deal with "Rough Rider" records, a feature on the CBS hit T.V. show "Northern Exposure", countless Los Angeles performances and their 1st album release, "Something Ventured".

In 1993 Ed relocated to Wisconsin with wife and musical partner, Cheryl Leah.

From 1994-2011 he was a member of the "Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua", a festival house band and touring ensemble.  He eventually became Music Director and co-Artistic Director for the organization.  During this time he continued to tour with "Chance" as well as turning his attentions to writing orchestral music.  Two notable premieres of this orchestral writing were the debut of his cello concerto with the Chequamegon Symphony Orchestra, for which he was the featured soloist, and the performance of his cantata, co-written with "Chance" co-founder Cheryl Leah and premiered with the "New Music" ensemble "Present Music".

In 2011 he began a two year stint of touring world wide with pop/rock icon Rickie Lee Jones.  In 2013 he left Jones' band to resume work with "Chance" and to give it his full attention.

Cheryl Leah - Co-founder of Chance

-Vocalist/poet CHERYL LEAH, an astounding performer and prolific recording artist (five albums in the last two years) has recorded and performed with jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Miroslav Vitous (co-founder of "Weather Report") as well as with singing legend Robert Goulet. 

She is a graduate of the Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, founded by jazz great and original music theoretician Dick Grove.  From her first professional performances in her home town of San Diego at age twelve to those of the present day, she is known in the music world for her staunch adherence to the pursuit of originality. With her treasure trove of empirical musical knowledge, she brings a soulfulness that can only come from the doing, making her immediately recognizable to musicians and audiences alike as the "real deal".

From her recording work with jazz greats Miroslav Vitous and Herbie Hancock to her performances with “new music” icons "Present Music" she has gained the respect of a stunningly wide array of prominent musicians. Whether it's the praises of songwriting legend Jackson Browne or those of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Roy Tanabe, the theme remains the same - her voice and the emotion it inspires are one and the same.

As Chance, Leah and Willett have opened for many fine artists including: Leo Kottke, Rickie Lee Jones, Los Lonely Boys, Little Feat, Howard Levy, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Wailin' Jennies, Willie Nelson and many more.

Poor Farm Road

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