NPR Music announced the winner of the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest, its annual search for the next great undiscovered artist to play a Tiny Desk concert. Singer-songwriter Neffy, of Arlington, Va., is this year’s winner.
“Neffy’s song stood out amongst the thousands of 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entries as a universal cry to break free of constraints and celebrate nature's beauty,” All Songs Considered host and Tiny Desk creator Bob Boilen said. “With an acoustic guitar and that uplifting voice, Neffy wowed our judges.”
Neffy’s video was selected from thousands of entries from all 50 states, D.C and the US Virgin Islands. It was recorded in her room at her parents’ house after the singer-songwriter returned home when the pandemic started. The winning song, “Wait Up,” showcases Neffy's distinctive, soulful voice, and is a touching reflection on the power of slowing down to appreciate the natural world.
Watch the entry and listen to her performance of "Wait Up."
Neffy’s intimate entry captivated this year’s Tiny Desk Contest judging panel — including Bob Boilen and Tiny Desk producer Bobby Carter; indie rock musician Phoebe Bridgers and rapper Tobe Nwigwe, both alums of the Tiny Desk; 2020 Tiny Desk Contest winner Linda Diaz; and John Morrison from WXPN and Jewly Hight from WNXP.
"I would be lying if I said I hadn't dreamt about something like this,” Neffy said. “Now that the time has come it doesn't feel real. But it also feels like all of the decisions I made and the work I put into taking myself seriously as an artist, led up to this moment."
Neffy is no stranger to the Tiny Desk Contest, having previously submitted two entries: one last year and one in 2018. In 2020, she was named as a recipient of the Emergent Seed grant in Washington, D.C. for her song “Hanging On Too Long.” She also self-released an EP called I Don't Miss You.
Since the Tiny Desk team has been working from home for the moment, NPR Music has been producing Tiny Desk (home) concerts in response to ongoing social-distancing measures: performances with the same intimate Tiny Desk spirit in settings all over the world. The series features recent performances by Tom Jones, The Isley Brothers, Sleater-Kinney, Young Thug, Maple Glider, Lucy Dacus, Bleachers and more.