True Life Trio performs riveting vocal harmonies from Eastern Europe, the Americas & beyond. This innovative trio explores the creative possibilities of cross-fertilization of different traditions with unlikely timbres connecting Bulgaria to the Bayou.  TLT’s improvisation-laced repertoire includes original songs and folk tunes from far-flung lands such as Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine and the American South.

Featuring the powerful vocal talents of three dynamic performers whose musical collaboration was forged in Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, this Bay Area based trio delves deep into a vast array of folk music that lends itself to three-part vocal harmony, massaging and expanding the boundaries of these traditional styles.  The result is a sweet, sonic explosion that melts in the listener’s ear and that is uniquely True Life Trio.

On June 10, 2016, TLT released their first full-length recording, Like Never and Like Always, a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus, Like Never and Like Always was originally commissioned by the East Bay Fund For Artists with premiere performances in November of 2014. This ambitious and exciting recording was produced by sound designer Eric Oberthaler and recorded by David Luke at Opus Studios in Berkeley, CA. It was released on the Waxsimile Productions label.

True Life Trio is:
Leslie Bonnett: voice, fiddle, percussion
Briget Boyle: voice, guitar, percussion
Juliana Graffagna: voice, accordion, percussion


Leslie Bonnett’s artistic path has been marked by a rich diversity of musical journeys.  Her primary instruments of expression are voice and violin, complemented by explorations into a variety of dance forms.  She began with classical studies as a child but soon thereafter jumped off into the musical realms of Scandinavia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Americas and beyond.  Along the way she earned a B.A. in Music from U.C. Santa Cruz and sang with San Francisco Symphony Chorus and Savina.  Leslie also sang for fifteen years withKitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble with whom she had the great fortune of working with amazing master artists and travelling to far off lands for performance and musical/cultural study.  She can currently be found performing with Balkalicious Fire Drive and True Life Trio.


Briget Boyle began her musical journey at a very young age. As the daughter of singer songwriter Karen Tobin and recording engineer Tim Boyle, it is safe to say that she came out singing. Briget is a  solo singer-songwriter who began writing her own music at the age of 12. She is one of the preeminent vocalists in the Balkan and Eastern European music scene in the Bay Area,  and in addition to performing with True Life Trio she also sang with renowned groups Kitka, Brass Menazeri. Her debut solo album, The Parts Interior, is now available for purchase on CD baby.


Juliana Graffagna began her musical career as a young girl, singing in church choir and studying classical piano. She then ventured on to musical theatre, women’s glee club, Russian language study, and the discovery of her passion for traditional music. Juliana sang with the acclaimed Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble for more than two decades, serving as music director for 10 years, performing extensively throughout the U.S. and Eastern Europe. She has had the privilege of studying Eastern European vocal technique with master singers Tzvetanka Varimezova, Mariana Sadovska, Merita Halili, Donka Koleva, Carl Linich and Christos Govetas.  Juliana currently performs with the eclectic world music ensemble Janam which she founded in 2007. She is also a studio vocalist and voice/piano teacher.


Photograph by Anastasia Kuba