Gaelynn Lea Wins NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest

“Gaelynn Lea had the most arresting voice and overall sound I heard in this competition.”
Gaelynn Lea

After sifting through 6,100 submissions, NPR announced the winner of their 2016 Tiny Desk Contest: Minnesota singer/​violinist Gaelynn Lea:

Gaelynn is a 32-year-old classically trained fiddler whose music is steeped in Celtic tradition and American fiddle tunes. Her fiddle style is shaped by those traditions but also the challenge she has, playing an instrument that is almost as large as she is. Gaelynn was born with brittle bone disease, a congenital disability that makes playing the violin tucked tightly under the chin not a comfortable option. Instead she plays it upright, as a cellist might.

According to NPR’s Rob Hilton:

Gaelynn Lea had the most arresting voice and overall sound I heard in this competition. While judging each entry, I’d listen to the song first, then watch the video if I was moved by the music to spend more time with it. I was profoundly moved by Lea’s song, particularly its serpentine, earworm melody and the tremendous heartache in her poetry.

You can watch Lea’s submission, ​“Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun,” below.

I first became aware of Lea via The Murder of Crows, her collaboration with Low’s Alan Sparhawk. If you’re a fan of The Dirty Three, or similarly atmospheric chamber music, then I highly recommend them.