When Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traore stopped by KCRW's studio, she was in the middle of a cross-country tour and bound for Northern California. The travel-ready artist is the daughter of a diplomat who has been all over the world and cites her rich cultural experiences as her source of inspiration. Singing in both English and her native language, songs like "Mama" function as a tapestry of her life.
Sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz aren't the youngest musicians ever to play the Tiny Desk, but they come pretty close. Their music — a restrained, homespun mix of folk and pop with undeniably sweet harmonies — certainly ranks among the loveliest we've heard.
Last month, Seattle songwriter Mary Lambert was nominated for a Grammy for her contribution to the gay-rights anthem "Same Love," by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This past summer, she took to the KEXP airwaves to perform her rendition of "She Keeps Me Warm," which expands on the chorus to the hit that made her voice famous.
Van-Anh Vanessa Vo is a veteran when it comes to taking risks, and it pays off in her compelling music. As a young girl in Vietnam, she knew she wanted to be a traditional musician, even though it was a world dominated by men. It was risky, then, when she pestered a master teacher for three years to give her lessons. He finally gave in, taking her on as an apprentice.
Fusing traditional Latin rhythms with Afro-Peruvian beats, Novalima is a one-of a-kind collective from Peru. During a visit to KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic the day after Nelson Mandela's death, the group brought its signature energy to "Liberta" — performed with a dedication to the late South African president.
If you were to define a sub-genre for Julianna Barwick's ambient music, it might be something like "polar pastoralism," as the young singer and composer evokes both the Southern straw-dust farmland of her youth and the glacial fields that surrounded the recording of her latest album.
Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna first caught our attention a few years ago with her rich, textured voice. Since then, she's grown as an artist in many ways, from collaborating with huge talents like Pharrell to starting her own fashion line.
Jagwar Ma is on a quest to revitalize Britpop. Actually, the band may be unintentionally hindering the genre's revival; Noel Gallagher of Oasis has been quoted as saying he and his former bandmates are too busy listening to the budding Australian group to even entertain the idea of reuniting.
Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.