Bob Boilen returned to his Tiny Desk for the first time since March 2020 this week, featuring Neffy as the latest guest to appear on NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk Concert series. NPR Music announced Neffy as the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner back in September.
It’s hard to imagine who was more ecstatic for this Tiny Desk Concert. For Neffy (real name, Mecca Russell), it was a dream come true to win the Tiny Desk Contest and perform for the hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who would watch online. For Tiny Desk Concert producer Bob Boilen, it marked the first time he returned to his “office” at NPR headquarters in almost 600 days, despite what viewers at home thought when Billie Eilish recreated the scene for her performance back in August of 2020.
“We had filmed almost 1,000 Tiny Desk concerts before we abandoned the office in mid-March of 2020. What was then exciting yet routine now felt somewhat like a hallucination,” wrote Boilen in the video’s description.
While Boilen had finally returned “home”, Neffy found herself a long way from home. The budding New York-by-way-of-Virginia singer-songwriter sat down at Boilen’s desk in Washington, D.C., and acquainted herself with the few people allowed to witness the performance; just Boilen and the five-person Tiny Desk crew.
Neffy began the Sunday evening performance with “Like You Did”, a soft and soothing song that hears her lightly plucking an acoustic guitar and singing of a broken relationship. From there, Neffy thanked the crew and viewers at home before starting into “Wait Up”, the same song that won her the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest.
“I wrote ‘Wait Up’ like many other songs I’ve written: sitting on the edge of my bed. But I didn’t know it would be the song that would change my life,” Neffy told the Tiny Desk Concert crew. “I got to sing lyrics I wrote in the privacy of my room late at night to a vast and loving audience is beyond my wildest dreams. For that, I am incredibly grateful, and quite frankly, still in disbelief.”
With an acoustic guitar still in hand and her soulful voice in tow, Neffy finished her performance with two more songs.
“Having anxiety doesn’t stop bad things from happening,” she tells the camera before plucking the opening measures of “What If”, a song about the anxiety one feels before a friendship goes awry. After this romp through the poignant “What If”, Neffy then thanked everyone for listening and closed with a delicate “Hangin’ On”.
Watch Neffy perform on the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series below, and scroll down to watch her contest-winning submission of “Wait Up”.
Neffy – Tiny Desk Concert
Neffy – “Wait Up” – Tiny Desk Contest Submission
[Video: Mecca Russell]