NPR’s Tiny Desk is when artists can strip down from touring big crowds and be in an intimate space where live bands and live vocals are appreciated. It’s an exciting music experience of connecting with the audience on a personal level while handling the vulnerability that comes with performing in an acoustic setting.
It doesn’t just take talent alone to perform at Tiny Desk. It also takes a skill that can’t be taught: a lucid and innate passion for the art of music. Here are five artists that I believe should be next up at Tiny Desk.
Ari Lennox is one of those rare singers of today where their live vocals sound exactly like the studio recorded tracks. She’s not only mastered the art of baring her neo-soul sound in her performances, but she also evokes her bigger than life personality through each lyric.
Her homegirl around the way persona and D.C. charm would light up Tiny Desk, all while the audience is instantly captured by her smooth, buttery voice that takes over your senses.
Tiny Desk has welcomed artists from various genres, most recently with gospel which many were surprised and greatly pleased for the platform’s music inclusivity. With Nigerian artist Burna Boy, it would be the perfect combination of NPR continuing to break past music barriers with afrobeats and him being no stranger to performing with a top notch live band.
A key reason for why his music crossed over to the U.S. is because his infectious energy and passionate storytelling is undeniable and requires no explanation despite cultural differences. This energy that radiates through his artistry would make for a killer set at Tiny Desk.
The Swedish singer’s voice wraps you up in a soothing comfort that’s rather magical. Snoh Aalegra’s angelic yet raspy sound creates her self-described genre “cinematic soul” that feels like a daydream.
Hearing live bass strings, a saxophone and piano keys behind Aalegra will set off her classic soul/R&B influences and the feels that her music is known for giving.
On the list of from YouTube to stardom is Kiana Ledé and she was initially known for her popular acoustic covers that she titled “Soul Food Sessions”. Her studio records give no justice to her delicate, warm tone that pulls on your heart strings and transports you to how 2000’s R&B used to feel.
Ledé is a soft R&B crooner that comes with a powerful vocal range and impressive control between her vocal registers. The 22-year-old has a special gift in how she effortlessly unpacks her emotions into her performances.
Kota the Friend
When it’s said that rap is truly poetry, Kota the Friend is one of the rappers they’re describing. The Brooklyn MC brings topics ranging from systematic racism to self-love in his music in a way that’s clever, but most importantly, authentic.
Heard through his stripped production, Kota’s style of rap music leaves no room for any noise without intention that makes his sound peaceful and brings focus to his hard-hitting flow and bars which isn’t typical in Hip-hop today. His debut album, Foto, has neo-soul and jazz influences that with a live band would take the impact of the messages in his music to another level.
Who are some artists that you would love to see at NPR’s Tiny Desk? Let me know in the comments below!