On Thursday, July 23, Bob Boilen was joined by Rita Houston, Program Director of NPR Member station WFUV in New York, for the penultimate episode of Tiny Desk Contest Top shelf. Houston shared five of her favorite entries from the 2020 Contest, all from artists based in or just outside New York, N.Y. Houston's vibrant and eclectic selections were reflective of the breadth of music we received in the over 6,000 entries to this year's Contest.
Two artists joined Boilen and Houston in the livestream: Charles Turner of the band Charles Turner & Uptown Swing and Ruby Choi. Turner spoke about the New York music community and the importance of making jazz music more accessible for a wider audience. "I think it's incredibly important for jazz to remain on the forefront when it comes to [learning about] Black American music as a whole," Turner shared. "I consider myself to be a soul singer — I sing the music of the souls of the people who have come before me."
In Choi's interview, she broke down some of the processes and technicalities behind creating a socially distant yet visually intriguing entry video. She also encouraged artists who might be hesitant to enter next year's Contest to go for it: "I was afraid to put myself out there, but there's nothing to lose," Choi said. "It's important to trust your gut and just do it."
Entries featured in episode seven included:
- Laveda, "Dream. Sleep."
- Charles Turner & Uptown Swing, "Harlem Harlem Harlem"
- José Benjamín, "Sketching in Pen"
- Ruby Choi, "Onion"
- Dirty Bird, "A Dangerous Dark"
Join us on the NPR Music YouTube channel next Thursday, July 30, for the final episode of Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf, where Kevin Cole of KEXP will share his favorite 2020 Tiny Desk Contest entries.