NPR Music has announced the winner of the eighth edition of the Tiny Desk Contest: Alisa Amador. The Boston-based singer-songwriter will perform at NPR‘s Tiny Desk before embarking on the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road national tour at the end of the month.
After submitting a Contest entry every year since 2018, Alisa Amador fatefully chose “Milonga accidental” as her 2022 submission. The winning song was the first song she submitted sung entirely in Spanish.
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Her performance was selected from among thousands of submissions from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico by a panel of judges including Tiny Desk creator and host of All Songs Considered Bob Boilen; Tiny Desk producer Bobby Carter, singer Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, rapper Big K.R.I.T, singer-songwriter Raveena, Puerto Rican singer iLe and jazz critic Nate Chinen from WBGO.
“With thousands of entries it’s always a tough choice, but Alisa’s voice is what puts it over the top for me,” Bob Boilen said of the panel’s selection. “I don’t speak Spanish, yet her yearning voice conveyed what I needed to know about her and the song, a song I think of as wondering and questioning one’s place in life. That feeling is also in the spaciousness of her acoustic guitar playing.”
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“Alisa Amador felt simply soothing and pleasant to listen to. I enjoyed her voice and the way she sort of embraced her ‘confusion’ through her song,” iLe added. “I think we all go through those moments when we feel like we belong in more than just one place and we feel that we want to be everywhere at the same time.”
In a statement submitted to NPR Music as part of the contest, Amador described “Milonga accidental” as “an ode to in-between-ness, to having several identities at once, to feeling split between cultures and languages. … The verses all deal in opposites: ‘when I look outside, when I look inside, when I look outside again / from the periphery to the very center, I am always the witness and the judge’ The chorus is a question: ‘When will I know how to decipher my purpose? When will I feel at home in my voice?’ For anyone who has felt out of place, or like they don’t fit neatly under one label, I hope you find a home in the two minutes and 30 seconds of this song.”
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Born to musical parents Rose and Brian Amador, who started the group Sol y Canto over 25 years ago, Alisa began performing when she was just five years old. She has sung with Sol y Canto since she was a child, and she has independently released original music, including her 2021 EP Narratives. Her sound combines “rock, jazz, funk and alternative folk, all wrapped in the spirit of the Latin music she grew up with,” according to her website, and her songs deal with themes related to her multi-faceted background.
“I am from Boston, but my family is from Puerto Rico, New Mexico and Argentina,” she said, “and I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit neatly into any boxes.”
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Alisa Amador will be interviewed on All Things Considered today (May 17th). Click here to learn when it will air on your local NPR station. She will embark on the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour at the end of May, with performances in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. Tickets go on sale today here. View a list of dates and venues below, and for more info, click here.
Watch Alisa Amador’s performance of “Milonga accidental” in the player below.
Alisa Amador – “Milonga accidental”
Tiny Desk Contest On The Road 2022 Tour Dates:
May 24th – Washington, D.C. (with WAMU) – Songbyrd Music House
June 7th – Atlanta, GA (with GBP/WABE) – Aisle 5
June 12th – Seattle, WA (with KEXP) – KEXP Gathering Space
June 14th – Los Angeles, CA (LAist/KPCC) – Resident
June 18th – New York, NY (with WFUV) – BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!