Jacqueline Marie Photo.
May 17, 2022, Washington, D.C. — Today on Morning Edition, NPR Music announced the winner of the eighth edition of the Tiny Desk Contest: Alisa Amador of Boston, Mass. Amador will perform at NPR’s Tiny Desk before embarking on the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road national tour.
Alisa Amador was selected as the winning performer out of thousands of submissions from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Watch the winning entry featuring her original song “Milonga accidental” on NPR.org/music.
The performance captivated this year’s Tiny Desk Contest judging panel — Tiny Desk creator and host of All Songs Considered Bob Boilen; Tiny Desk producer Bobby Carter, singer Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, rapper Big K.R.I.T, singer-songwriter Raveena, Puerto Rican singer iLe and jazz critic Nate Chinen from WBGO.
“With thousands of entries it’s always a tough choice, but Alisa’s voice is what puts it over the top for me,” Bob Boilen said of the panel’s pick. “I don’t speak Spanish, yet her yearning voice conveyed what I needed to know about her and the song, a song I think of as wondering and questioning one’s place in life. That feeling is also in the spaciousness of her acoustic guitar playing.”
“Alisa Amador felt simply soothing and pleasant to listen to. I enjoyed her voice and the way she sort of embraced her ‘confusion’ through her song,” iLe said of the winning entry. “I think we all go through those moments when we feel like we belong in more than just one place and we feel that we want to be everywhere at the same time.”
“‘Milonga accidental’ is an ode to in-between-ness, to having several identities at once, to feeling split between cultures and languages,” Amador told NPR Music in a statement as part of the Contest. “The verses all deal in opposites: ‘when I look outside, when I look inside, when I look outside again / from the periphery to the very center, I am always the witness and the judge‘ The chorus is a question: ‘When will I know how to decipher my purpose? When will I feel at home in my voice?’ For anyone who has felt out of place, or like they don’t fit neatly under one label, I hope you find a home in the two minutes and 30 seconds of this song.”
Amador is no stranger to the Tiny Desk Contest. She has submitted a Contest entry every year since 2018, but 2022 was the first time she submitted an entry sung entirely in Spanish. She’s also got deep roots in music. Her parents started the group Sol y Canto more than 25 years ago, and Alisa began singing with them when she was just five. Alisa and her parents, Rosi and Brian Amador, have been featured in interviews produced by WBUR, NPR’s news station in her hometown of Boston. In addition to her work with Sol y Canto she has also self-released music including the 2021 EP Narratives.
Amador’s music is a mix not only of musical styles — “rock, jazz, funk and alternative folk, all wrapped in the spirit of the Latin music she grew up with,” as her website describes it — but also the many elements that make up her background. “I wrote this song as a way to make a home for myself,” she told NPR of “Milonga accidental” during the Contest. “I am from Boston, but my family is from Puerto Rico, New Mexico and Argentina, and I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit neatly into any boxes.
Now that she’s won, Amador says, “I am absolutely honored, shocked and overwhelmed with gratitude. This was my first time sharing a song in Spanish with the Contest community. As a Latina, as an American and as a songwriter, I feel so deeply honored.”
Tune in this afternoon to All Things Considered to hear the first exclusive NPR interview with Amador. Stations and broadcast times are available at NPR.org/stations.
TINY DESK CONTEST TOUR
This year marks the return of The Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour, in partnership with NPR Member stations and supported by State Farm. This victory tour is the chance to see the winner live as well as showcasing vibrant communities of local talent across the country. The tour starts on May 24 in Washington, D.C. (WAMU), and June 7 in Seattle (KEXP), June 12 in Atlanta (GBP/ WABE), June 14 in Los Angeles (LAist/KPCC) and ends in New York (WFUV) on June 18 as part of a first-of-its-kind joint showcase with BRIC! Celebrate Brooklyn. You can find more information about the Tiny Desk Contest Tour here.
Tickets for the tour go on sale today on NPRpresents.org
Since the Tiny Desk team has been working from home, NPR Music has been producing Tiny Desk (home) concerts in response to ongoing social-distancing measures: performances with the same intimate Tiny Desk spirit in settings all over the world. The series has recently featured performances by Curren$y, The Linda Lindas, Maren Morris, Pom Pom Squad, Camilo, Patti Labelle and many more.
State Farm® is the exclusive sponsor of this year’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest and Tiny Desk On the Road Tour. “Our sponsorship of NPR helps us drive deep and meaningful connections with consumers through efforts like the Tiny Desk Contest,” said Alyson Griffin, Marketing Vice President. “We are honored to support a platform that promotes creativity, gives musicians a place to showcase their talents, and provides a unique way to connect with millions of artists from all genres. A hearty congratulations to Alisa Amador.”
Alisa Amador is available for interviews, email [email protected]
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Below are the scheduled stops along the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour:
May 24th- Washington, D.C. (with WAMU)
June 7th- Atlanta, GA (with GBP/WABE)
June 12th- Seattle, WA (with KEXP)
June 14th- Los Angeles, CA (LAist/KPCC)
June 18th- New York, NY (with WFUV)
About NPR Music
For more than a decade, NPR Music’s robust music journalism has engaged millions of music fans from all genres with feature stories, live performances, cultural analysis and interviews. Projects include the Tiny Desk concert series; Turning the Tables; Jazz Night in America and the podcasts All Songs Considered, Alt Latinoand Louder Than a Riot. NPR Music collaborates with NPR’s news magazines, public radio Member stations and the passionate listener community to celebrate exceptional music and discover emerging artists. Visit NPRMusic.org and connect with NPR Music on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Yanius Alvarado Matos, NPR Media Relations