Originally from Vancouver, Laila Biali began studying piano at age four, after her mother noticed she could play the theme to Sesame Street, without any training. She aspired to be a concert pianist until, at 17, after moving to Toronto, she heard jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and, later, pianist Keith Jarrett. After studies at Humber College, she began playing clubs and festivals. She won the 2003 CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award and was named SOCAN Composer and Keyboardist of the Year at the 2005 National Jazz Awards. After touring with Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, and moving to New York, she auditioned for Sting, which resulted in a record and tour with him in 2009. Her album Tracing Light was a Juno nominee for the 2011 Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.