Alif Laila was introduced to the sitar by Ustad Mir Kasem Khan, nephew of the legendary Ustad Alauddin Khan, in Dhaka , Bangladesh. She began, as a student, in the Nazrul Academy . After sometime she came under the wings of her ustad, to be taught in great depths on the 'one to one basis' for eight years. The style of training is mostly unwritten Indian classical music that has come down from generations to present day. In this method, Laila was taught the intricate techniques and compositions of the Senia Maihar Gharana, started by Ustad Alauddin Khan . In this school of music the oldest form of Indian classical music, the Dhrupad, has been incorporated with newly developed approach and techniques in instrumental classical music. It created a new era that Laila is fortunate to be part of.
She has a passion beyond music alone. She graduated in 1981, with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts & Painting from Dhaka University. Her mind opened up to the world of true art as she painted the moods of emotions with both color and music. In 1988, she moved to the United States, away from the origin of the music, yet finding the fortune of many eminent musicians and teachers who guided and influenced her music. She continued her study with teachers, Partha Chatterjee and Krishna Bhatt and Kushal Das. She also received blessings from "Sur Samrat", the king of melody, Ustad Akbar Khan.
Laila has performed internationally at venues such as UNESCO, Paris , France, Purcell Room, London, The Kerala Arts Society, Kerala, India, the National Museum of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh, The Bengal Foundation Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh, the India International Center, New Delhi, India, The Manav Sangrharalaya, Bhopal, India, The Sangeet Research Academy Annual Festival, Kolkata, India. She has performed in US at venues such as The Kennedy Center, Wash. DC, The Smithsonian, Wash. DC, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD, The Shakespeare Theater, Wash DC, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York. Laila inaugurated the classical music concert series at the Independent University of Bangladesh in December 2015. She is the first sitar player to perform at the Shahid Minar, Dhaka to pay tribute to the Benglali Language movement martyrs of 1952.
Her artistic and creative energy has resulted in directing and producing numerous audiovisual recordings with classical sitar. Her DVD Hridayaragam was featured in the Women's History Month at the Smithsonian in 2008 and Strings of Resonance was nominated for the "Best Classical Music Awards" in Dhaka Bangladesh in 2010. She has presented her raag-mala paintings in watercolor with her sitar recital at The Capstone Theater, Liverpool and South Bank Center, London, UK in 2012, hosted by Milapfest, UK. She has performed and recorded with eminent tabla artists, namely: Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and Ustad Taari Khan, Pandit Samar Saha, Ustad Akram Khan, Pandit Sudhir Pande.
Laila's creative work in Indian classical music with different genres of music are her album, I Am a River, combining sitar and jazz-saxophone, her composition with sitar and cello was performed at the Bangladesh Embassy, Washington DC in April 2012 One of her Sitar & World percussion series was presented at the Atlas Intersection Performing Arts Center, Wash DC. Her duet series "Resonant Moods" with South Indian classical violin, was hosted by the 'World Artists Experiences' in October 2014 and Atlas Performing Arts Theater, Wash DC in October 2015.
She received an 'Award of Excellence' in 2012 from ASHA Wash DC Maryland Performing Artist Touring Roster by the Maryland State Arts Council. She also received the Individual Artist's Award 2014 from the same and has been featured at the Mid Atlantic Music Conference, in Nov. 2014. She was awarded a grant from the Arts &Humanities Council Montgomery County, MD for her upcoming CD recording, 'Ekavali' (the single thread) with Tanmoy Bose, with world melodies and percussion. She directed an ensemble of sitar, flute, tabla and mridangam in 'Melodies of Monsoon' in the Embassy of india in Wash DC in 2015.
Laila's latest CD is titled 'Chakra', depicting the cycle of energy. In May 2014, she digitally released her CD, 'Amma' a tribute to her mother, who is an inspiration to her music and life. She has released eight Indian classical sitar CDs and two DVDs. Laila recently established her music school 'Sitar Niketan' in the Wash DC metro area.