Thousands of entries. One winner.
We're excited to name Naia Izumi the winner of the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest.
meet the winner
Los Angeles' Naia Izumi has an intricate, complex guitar style and a sweet, soulful voice. His entry video for "Soft Spoken," recorded in his home studio in Los Angeles, showcases his virtuoistic talent and the gentle spirit he brings to his music. A dedicated musician, songwriter and producer, Izumi regularly busks on the streets of Los Angeles and plays throughout the city.
We're excited to welcome Naia Izumi to the Tiny Desk at NPR in Washington, D.C., where he will play his own Tiny Desk concert. He also wins the opportunity to appear at a taping of NPR's Ask Me Another and to tour the United States with NPR and Lagunitas.
what the judges said
Naia Izumi’s electric guitar artistry is somewhere between the growling tones of Jimi Hendrix while at the same time has the rhythm and melodic prowess of someone playing an African kalimba. He has a tenderness to his voice that feels both aged and innocent with a talent that is bubbling and ready to blossom.
Incredibly charming. Breathtaking guitar work and a phenomenal voice. He was a clear standout and immediately memorable. I’m very excited to get to see him perform at the desk.
The fact that Naia Izumi’s solo performance captivated the judging panel, out of a sea of big bands and flashy videos, says something powerful about what a singular talent we have on our hands. Naia’s remarkable creativity on the guitar, solid songwriting and gentle yet powerful charisma make me proud to root for him as our winner!
Someone with natural talent can transfer their skills to any genre. I prefer an artist with an inviting and spirited personality. For those reasons and more, I fought for Naia Izumi.
There's something really special about this performance from Naia Izumi. The fresh and honest vibe is immediate, and the inventive guitar playing is seriously impressive. Can't wait to hear more!
Naia is a breath of familiar air with his raspy voice and intricate guitar playing. As Bob told me, it's going to be an amazing ride. It truly is.
Watch The Entries
Here's where you can watch videos from the musicians who've entered the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest. Find your band's entry, or just have a look around at what everyone's been creating.