While taking in a showcase at the 2008 South-By-Southwest creator and host of NPR’s “All Songs Considered” Bob Boilen, and his colleague Stephen Thompson, observed that the lack of intimacy (and often due respect) that the large show did not afford folk singer Laura Gibson to shine (or even be heard.)
Taking a page from the great listening rooms like Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe the Tiny Desk concert series was born. What started as a small filmed gathering around Boilen’s desk quickly grew in reputation and size. Boilen and Thompson’s vision has now become a plum gig prestige enough to pull in major talents like Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Jackson Browne, and Lucinda Williams. but the buzz is just around the viral nature of the event not in the hushed, and respectful space itself.
Tiny Desk concert series held a contest to find new talent, and after thousands of videos assessed by Boilen, Robin Hilton, John Congleton, Valerie June, Reggie Watts and Thao Nguyen the winner was announced today.
Oakland-based Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Dphrepaulezz) was a great pick. The man is working through his second chance at his craft and at life. His first record never went anywhere and he became disillusioned with music and a near-deadly car accident left him in a coma followed by rehabilitation leading to recovery and marriage and the birth of his son.
Fantastic Negrito’s stories of the human condition blended of gospel, soul, funk and rock is extraordinary and performed with passion and flair. Even in a freight elevator as he does in the below video he submitted to the competition.
From the Tiny Desk concert series site:
As a young man, the Oakland singer taught himself to play just about every instrument he could get his hands on. But after making a record that failed to take off, he felt his confidence and artistry suffer; disenchanted with music, he simply quit. The years that followed brought major life changes: a near-deadly car accident and the resulting coma, intense rehabilitation, marriage and the birth of his son. Now, renewed creative energy has spawned the musical project that is Fantastic Negrito. He chose the name, he says, as “a celebration of blackness. The ‘Fantastic’ is self-explanatory; the ‘Negrito’ is a way to open blackness up to everyone, making it playful and international.” Judges Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, John Congleton, Valerie June, Reggie Watts and Thao Nguyen agreed that this soulful, unbridled performance, captured at a makeshift desk in an Oakland freight elevator, stood out from the
An official Fantastic Negrito’s Tiny Desk Concert will be posted st at npr.org/music the week of March 9.