NPR Music’s Tiny Desk series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring four weeks of Tiny Desk (home) concerts and playlists by Black artists spanning different genres and generations each week. The lineup includes both emerging and established artists who will be performing a Tiny Desk concert for the first time. This celebration highlights the beautiful cornucopia of Black music and our special way of presenting it. We hope you enjoy.
Sidney Madden | February 11, 2021
Cornrows braided back with the precision of an architect. Stiletto nails commanding a sampling machine. Gold-glinted lids to match her light-up Beads Byaree earrings. With every move, KeiyaA shines so bright, it’s impossible to look away. And while your eyes are fixated on her person, the music KeiyaA conjures inside Brooklyn’s Electric Garden is what leaves you completely spellbound.
Just like this awe-inducing Tiny Desk (home) concert, KeiyaA’s debut album, Forever, Ya Girl, appeared last year with kismet timing, unveiling her as a fully formed star. The 2020 release is a meditation on the thin line between solitude and loneliness, one that KeiyaA traces and teeters on while defining her Black womanhood. Whether it’s through jazzy woodwinds, heavy synths or prickly staccato, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shares waves of anguish, depletion, love and elation in a swirling stream of consciousness.
“Gone for so long I prefer to spend time in my pain, hey / Gone for so long I can barely recall the last my phone rang,” she sings on “Hvnli.”
While the album version of these tracks boast much of KeiyaA’s own production, affirmations and layered vocals in chorus, for this live version, the 28-year-old New Yorker communicates telepathically with her all-Black bandmates and cites her sources through the creative process.
“Most of the work that has carried me has been the writings of Black women,” KeiyaA says before showing off hardcover copies of works by Jayne Cortez and Ntozake Shange. We love a queen who shares her curriculum!
“Do Yourself a Favor”
“Finesse Without a Trace”
KeiyaA: vocals, samplers and keyboard
Buz: drums, vocals
Nelson Bandela Nance: keyboard, synths and vocals
Keenyn Omari: flute, saxophones and guitar
13th Law: bass and vocals
Audio: Jaclyn Sanchez, Abigail Lewis, Jacob Powell
Video: Scott Perry, Solange Smith, Marisa Gesualdi
Production: Caroline Waxse, Naavin Karimbux
TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Bobby Carter
Video Producer: Morgan Noelle Smith
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Art Director: CJ Riculan
Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Maia Stern
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann