tiny desk contest
tiny desk contest
tiny desk contest


Thousands of entries. One winner.

We're excited to name Naia Izumi the winner of the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest.

Watch his Tiny Desk concert.

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.

Celebrate with us

We're taking the Tiny Desk Contest to you! Join us on the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour fueled by Lagunitas.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. • Monday, May 21 
Naia Izumi appears on a live taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another with WNYC


NEW YORK, N.Y. • Tuesday, May 22
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with WFUV
ith Lau NoahDirty Bird and Lady Lush and the Vinyls


DENVER, COLO. (SOLD OUT)• Thursday, May 31
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with The Colorado Sound and Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir
  Ivory CircleAudible and Los Mocochetes

TWIN CITIES, MINN. • Friday, June 1

Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with The Current
 iLLismThe Nunnery and FELLOW PYNINS


PHILADELPHIA, PA. •  Wednesday, June 6
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with WXPN
with &MoreEmily Drinker and Madalean Gauze


PETALUMA, CALIF. (SOLD OUT) • Monday, June 11
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with KQED and KRCB
with La Misa NegraEki Shola and SOL Development


SEATTLE, WASH. (SOLD OUT) • Wednesday, June 13
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with KEXP
with Among AuthorsSassyBlack and Katie Kuffel


CHICAGO, ILL. (SOLD OUT) • Tuesday, June 26
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road with WBEZ
with Growing Concerns Poetry CollectiveMICHA and Dxtr Spits & The Devonn's

Hear more about Naia Izumi

NPR Music's Bob Boilen and Gaby Moreno announced the winner on Morning Edition.  

All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro spoke with Naia later that day.

what the judges said

FPO bob boilen
Bob Boilen

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.

NPR Music
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Robin Hilton

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.

NPR Music
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Talia Schlanger

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!

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Toki Wright

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.

The Current
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Russ Borris

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!

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Tarriona "Tank" Ball

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.

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Gaby Moreno

An undeniable talent. I was captivated by Naia’s soulful voice, and the way he takes a unique approach to his virtuosic level of talent on guitar.

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. 

See the latest

Read more on the contest blog

Keep in touch

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