V.I. Musicians Can Take Part in This Year’s NPR Tony Desk Contest

Virgin Islands musicians can take part this year in NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, which offers a break-through opportunity for the winning entry, according to a news release from WTJX, the USVI public broadcasting station.

Over the past four years the contest has received more than 22,000 entries from artists and bands from the 50 states. Tiny Desk Contest winners have gone on great success. The inaugural winner, Fantastic Negrito, won two Grammy awards. Folk musician Gaelynn Lea has built an enthusiastic fanbase in the United States and across Europe, released a new album and played at renowned venues such as the Kennedy Center. The third year winner, Tank and the Bangas, has played to sold-out crowds around the world, even performing at last year’s Coachella festival.

Last year’s winner, Naia Izumi, opened the national tour for The Lone Bellow, performed a TED Salon and signed a contract with Sony Masterworks.

And this year musicians in the territory can take part.

“Membership has its privileges,” said WTJX CEO Tanya-Marie Singh. “WTJX-FM is proud that its status as a member station has allowed for US Virgin Islanders to participate in this contest. Tiny Desk Concerts feature major recording artists and for Virgin Islanders to have this opportunity, well it’s a big deal. This is a V.I.-to-the-world moment where we can showcase Quelbe, Calypso, Reggae, whatever genre … I know we have the talent locally to win this competition.”

Unsigned bands and musicians can submit videos through 11:59 p.m. AST, Sunday, April 14, at NPR.org/tinydeskcontest. Official rules are online at the website.

Mucca Pazza, a performance ensemble based in Chicago, performs at the Tiny Desk in 2016. (NPR photo)
Mucca Pazza, a performance ensemble based in Chicago, performs at the Tiny Desk in 2016. (NPR photo)

To take part, artists must create a new video that shows him or her playing one song they have written. The video must be shot while at a desk. Upload the video to YouTube and out the online entry form.

“Each year the contest inspires musicians to get together with their friends and make something, it’s wonderful to receive all these unique creations and witness how the community has grown,” said Bob Boilen, creator of the Tiny Desk concerts and a host of All Things Considered. “Just like at the Tiny Desk concerts: all genres and instruments are welcome. I can’t wait to see what musicians all over the country will send us this year!”

Blue Microphones, makers of the Yeti USB microphone, is the sponsor of this year’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest and tour.

The contest’s top prize includes a performance at the iconic Tiny Desk space at NPR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The winner will also go on tour with NPR Music. The event series, in partnership with NPR member stations, includes stops in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

In its news release, NPR Music said it welcomes music from all genres, and entrants from previous years are encouraged to submit again with new material. Artists must be at least 18 years old and live in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The winning artist or artists must be available to travel to Washington D.C., between May 27 and 29 to record their Tiny Desk performance at NPR Headquarters and able to go on tour in the spring 2019.

Since the launch of the Tiny Desk concert series in 2008, more than 800 performances have been recorded at the Tiny Desk – Boilen’s festive workspace at NPR headquarters, adorned with years of music mementos and memorabilia.