This year, I was blown away by the Tiny Desk Contest entries I saw. We received over 6,000 entries from all across the country. We saw tiny desks up on rooftops and down on a subway platform; tucked into treetops, pickup trucks and laundromats. We heard songs about the situations that make life difficult and the people that make life worth living.
But in the end, the judges and I could only choose one winning entry. We're so proud to share with you the music of Quinn Christopherson, this year's Tiny Desk Contest winner!
Quinn's entry astounded our judge panel from start to finish. His powerful song "Erase Me" is a nuanced take on his experience as a transgender man coming to terms with the power of his voice. Standing in front of a majestic painting of Denali, Quinn and his bandmate, Nick Carpenter, created their own work of art.
When I called Quinn to tell him the good news, he was amazed and surprised. "You just made my entire life," he said from his home in Anchorage, Alaska. He was also extremely humbled, saying he had "watched so many entries" featuring "so many talented people." He's right: We saw so much talent this year. But in the midst of all those entries we watched, it was his song the judges and I couldn't stop playing.
Lucy Dacus, another of this year's judges, agrees. She praised "Erase Me" for the way it concisely shares such a complex and personal message. "The song is so captivating, and his performance seemed so earnest," she tells NPR's Noel King and me on Morning Edition. "I kept coming back to the video." (Hear that interview at the audio link above.)
Soon, Quinn will be coming to Washington D.C. to play his very own Tiny Desk concert. After that, he'll come on tour with NPR Music to play alongside other artists who entered the Contest this year. We're excited to hit the road again to celebrate artists we love.
Thank you to everyone who shared a song with us this year; we saw so many amazing entries and were introduced to many new artists to love. Thank you to Blue Microphones for its support of the Contest. And again, congratulations to Quinn, our newest Contest winner.
NOEL KING, HOST:
And it is that time of year again. NPR has crowned the winner of the annual Tiny Desk Contest. We got more than 6,000 entries from all across the country. The winner will get to play at the famous Tiny Desk and will also go on tour with NPR. Here with me to announce the results of this year's contest are two of the judges. Bob Boilen is the owner of the all-important Tiny Desk. He's also the host of All Songs Considered.
BOB BOILEN, BYLINE: How are you doing?
KING: Also with us is singer Lucy Dacus.
LUCY DACUS: Hi.
KING: So let me ask you both. How were the entries this year? - 6,000 of them.
DACUS: I found the range of entries super inspiring. Like, there were so many people taking risks and just showing something of themselves that felt really, like, vulnerable or super creative. Like, a lot of things I'd never seen before, so it was really fulfilling for me just to be a witness to all of that.
KING: All right. So who is the winner?
BOILEN: The winner is Quinn Chrisopherson. He's a songwriter, lives in Anchorage, Alaska. And his songwriting is sort of all about who he is, what he's about.
KING: And who he is is a big part of his music. He also has a really interesting story. Tell us about that.
BOILEN: Well, it's important to note that we don't know the history of these people when we listen to his music. So my first impression of him - he was a very stylish, skinny guy. And he's singing this vulnerable song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ERASE ME")
QUINN CHRISTOPHERSON: (Singing) I used to be someone I hated. I used to cry a lot.
BOILEN: You know, I didn't understand the - like, the opening line, I think, is, I used to have long hair. I used to smile when I walked. I used to be someone I hated, and I used to cry a lot. And I didn't quite understand it, but I was fascinated by what he was saying. Only after loving this thing did I realize that Quinn was transgender. Then I began to understand the song better.
DACUS: Yeah. His performance seemed so earnest. And I feel like Quinn has a future of fans that will really know him and feel seen by him. I'm really proud to be a part of choosing him.
KING: His lyrics are really extraordinary because in the song, he gets to the heart of an internal conflict over what it means to now be living as a man.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ERASE ME")
CHRISTOPHERSON: (Singing) I got a voice now. I got power that I can't stand.
KING: And that just blew me away. What about his music specifically stood out to each of you?
DACUS: I found myself upset that I hadn't heard the song yet and that I hadn't heard this perspective yet. Part of the song is, I'm - you know, he has this refrain where he says, I'm tired of people trying to erase me. I really felt that. And he says it over and over, almost as if, like, you'll understand it more each time that he says it. I kept coming back to the video, which is why I was such a big proponent for his win.
BOILEN: I was just fascinated and wanted to learn more about him. And that's what - to me, when I look for a winner, it's learning about someone who I want to know more about. I want to see their story unfold. I want - I know that there's much more depth. And that's what, for me, is a winner.
KING: Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, and Lucy Dacus, one of the judges, thank you guys both so much.
BOILEN: Thank you.
DACUS: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.