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.
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 were thrilled to welcome Naia Izumi to the Tiny Desk at NPR in Washington, D.C., where he played his own Tiny Desk concert. He also appeared at a taping of NPR's Ask Me Another and toured the United States with NPR and Lagunitas.
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
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.
Tank and the Bangas
New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas conveys its freewheeling spirit through a sound that combines pop, hip-hop, funk, spoken word and musical theater. The band’s entry video — set in an art classroom — won over our judges with its undeniable, joyful energy. Lead vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball has a playful way with words, thanks in part to her roots in New Orleans’ slam poetry scene. The band has played festivals all over the country, and has opened for artists like Big Freedia and Lianne La Havas.
We're excited to welcome Tank and the Bangas to the Tiny Desk at NPR in Washington, D.C., where they will play their own Tiny Desk concert. They also win the opportunity to appear at a taping of NPR's Ask Me Another and to tour the United States with NPR and Lagunitas.
Gaelynn Lea’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest entry was compelling, thoughtful and beautiful. She won over our judges with her innovative songwriting and playing.
Since winning the Tiny Desk Contest, Gaelynn has toured internationally and played at renowned venues like the Kennedy Center.
Fantastic Negrito’s winning entry in the 2015 Tiny Desk Contest was a raw, soulful performance captured at a makeshift desk in a freight elevator.
Since winning the Tiny Desk Contest, Fantastic Negrito has played at a number of major music festivals and at Madison Square Garden, and was recently nominated for his first Grammy.