Born near Cagliari, she pursued conservatory studies in oboe and voice. Ledda has a dramatic soprano voice suitable for opera, which she originally performed as an artist, but was attracted by the folk singing of her native Sardinia and has chosen a career primarily in that genre of music. She worked with the Cooperativa Teatro di Sardegna in the late 1970s. She has toured and recorded at the international level.
She was chosen by Sardinia's movie director, Gianfranco Cabiddu, to be the leading voice for his live music/cinematic mix project, Sonos de Memoria, featuring old film footage of Sardinia from the 1930s and today's leading musicians from the island playing over the film. Sonos has toured the world, with other Sardinian musicians, such as Paolo Fresu.
A more recent development in 2006 was a new project called "Visioni di Sardegna", written and produced by Elena Ledda's longtime collaborator Mauro Palmas, who had old films of Sardinia from the Luce Institute restored and assembled 18 musicians under the direction of RAI TV director, Rodolfo Roberti. Special guest, the nGreek singer Savina Yannatou, was invited to feature in the project to give it its unique pan-Mediterranean flavour. The project was ongoing in 2007.
The collaboration with Savina Yannatou, resulted in a series of ten concerts being given at the Half Note club in Athens at the end of March 2006. It met with critical acclaim and TV interest in Greece. This resulted in a CD being recorded (Tutti Baci, Lyra 1095) by both of them and featuring Mauro Palmas and Primavera en Salonico.
Among her collaborations these feature Lester Bowie, Israeli singer Noa, Maria del Mar Bonet (mallorca), Paolo Fresu, as well as Andreas Vollenweider, Don Cherry, and Nana Vasconcelos. In 2005 Elena collaborated with Neapolitan violinist, Lino Cannavacciuolo (Peppe Barra's violinist and original founder of the Solis String Quartet who are now Noa's band of choice) to produce her latest CD Amargura.
The BBC's Andy Kershaw said of Ledda, "I planned a trip south to make a programme about Sardinian music, almost solely on the evidence of a CD I was given of Elena's voice. We went to Sardinia and I was blown away. Elena and her band make traditional music from Sardinia using all the mainstream instruments, with hardly any 'traditional Sardinian' instruments in sight, yet it sounds so traditional and so not-mainstream. They have achieved a truly unique and refreshing sound. Clearly rooted to Sardinian tradition, yet so modern."
Her latest recordings due out in 2007 were done with other Sardinian, Andrea Parodi who died from cancer in October 2006, before completing the recordings. Ledda sang at Parodi's funeral.
- Ammentos (1979)
- Is Arrosas (1984)
- Sonos (1989)
- Incanti (1993)
- Maremannu (2000)
- Amargura (2005)