Two weeks ago, we reached out to Haley Heynderickx, a three-time Tiny Desk Contest entrant and Slingshot artist, about writing for the Tiny Desk Contest newsletter. "The Tiny Desk Contest changed my life," she said, so we asked her to tell that story in her own words:

Hello everyone!

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


A 22-year-old musician has discovered an innovative way to connect with her fans.

LAUREN SANDERSON: My name is Lauren Sanderson, and I write letters.

Late Monday afternoon, New York's hallowed Metropolitan Opera announced that it had fired conductor James Levine — an artist who had a close affiliation with the opera house for more than four decades — after a months-long investigation into claims of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct."

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Every band needs to refresh and reconsider its sound sooner or later, no matter how sharp it's gotten over the course of a long career. Creative stagnation comes for us all — even The Decemberists, a band whose records have always come bursting with verve and verbosity.

On Sept. 28, 1963, The Ronettes performed on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. In the video, the curtain parts to reveal the three singers dressed in identical long-sleeved pencil dresses, their hair partially swept up in the same half-bouffant that would become part of their signature style. They sway their hips and arms awkwardly to the opening bars of "Be My Baby," and then Ronnie Spector, standing on the left, opens her mouth.

The Mountain Goats On Mountain Stage

Mar 12, 2018

Taking the Mountain Stage for the second time, The Mountain Goats bring a fresh set of songs from its most recent album, Goths.

Frontman John Darnielle currently lives in Durham, N.C. but originally began The Mountain Goats as a solo artist based out of Claremont, Calif. Darnielle recorded with a charming, low-fi style and lyrics that clearly were relative to a lot of listeners.

Earthtones is the most intimate, straightforward record yet from Bahamas, aka Afie Jurvanen. With his signature sultry croon and quick wit, he manages to make the most challenging trials in life go down easy. "No Wrong" was written while he was on tour and is about the difficulty of leaving his family behind for life on the road.


  • "No Wrong"

Siddhartha Khosla has tiptoed into the tear ducts of millions of Americans. He's done it with such delicate genius that even if you've invited the cast of This Is Us into your living room weekly since the show began, you might not have noticed Siddhartha enter along with them. But to watch the show is to feel his presence and to experience both his heart and his own sense of family.

After watching ABC's two-hour premiere of its American Idol reboot, I'm still not sure they answered the most important question: Why bring this faded music competition back now?

The easy answer is money.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! At least it is for avid music fans like us and anyone else attending the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The annual endurance challenge gets underway this week, with thousands of bands from around the world — and many more fans — converging on the city for a seemingly endless bender of live performances — shows both big and small that last all day, every day, into the wee hours of the morning, with music pouring out of every club, restaurant, street corner and alleyway for miles.

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including "Sam Stone," "Angel From Montgomery," "Hello In There" and countless others.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


With his mischievous smile and playful stage persona, indie rock musician Mac DeMarco has gained a reputation as something of a merry prankster. But DeMarco says that what you see of him on the internet doesn't always tell the whole story.

Sampling the thousands of bands playing South By Southwest each year is like trying to take a sip from a tidal wave: It's hard to find an entry point, and you're more than likely going to wind up flattened.

Next week, the annual music festival kicks off in Austin, Texas, so All Things Considered weekend host Michel Martin requested a digestible primer — five songs by artists worth hearing this year.

All Nerve is an apt title from a band that's survived as much as the members of The Breeders have. Addiction and infighting broke up the four musicians responsible for the 1993's alternative staple Last Splash. Though the group has returned in various incarnations since then, it would be 25 years before the classic lineup — twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson — would record together again.

"Worthy." That's the word that singer-songwriter India.Arie had projected behind her when she performed at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony, before the telecast. The timing couldn't have been more apt.

Last year, NPR Music and NPR member stations across the country launched a new series called Slingshot designed to boost the careers of up-and-coming public radio favorites. Since the beginning of 2018, 22 new Slingshot artists have been announced. Many of them are about to head to Austin, Texas, for next week's South By Southwest Music Festival. To preview the big event, here are a few artist recommendations from the Slingshot series.

Jaime Wyatt On Her 'Felony Blues'

Mar 10, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Editor's note: This song and its title contain explicit language.

Vince Staples possesses a particular kind of black genius so shrewd, humorous and antagonistic that it can be hard to translate his POV into confectionary pop. Thankfully, he's immune to oversimplification. Instead, the Long Beach native has spent most of his career since his 2015 Def Jam debut (Summertime '06) applying an almost experimental approach to hip-hop that has drawn acclaim, but also plenty of naysayers critical of his creative complexity.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


It's been nearly two years since we heard someone say...


RYAN SEACREST: This is "American Idol."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Disney's latest summer reading list adaptation A Wrinkle in Time is being hailed and expected to set the box office aflurry. A big-screen (and big-budget) adaptation of the 1962 novel by Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time follows a young girl through inter-dimensional time and space to find her missing father. It's a coming-of-age story bundled in a sci-fi odyssey, tied up with a $100 million bow.

If you've ever wished you could be a fly on the wall at a recording session with Jimi Hendrix, it doesn't get much closer than this. From a technical standpoint, Eddie Kramer plugged in the wires, pulled the faders and placed the mics in studio with Hendrix. From a spiritual standpoint, he's responsible for capturing the electric genius of one of rock and roll's greatest.

File this one under: "when genre walls collapse, the fusions are wonderful." Among the sidenotes to dance-music archivists' interest in the minimalist sounds of New York's 1970s and '80s downtown cult figures such as Arthur Russell and Julius Eastman, is how it's brought the work of their colleagues, contemporaries and collaborators to light.

I'd missed half the set. There was a long line outside around the corner for the headliner, a group of pretty boys who make pretty boy pop-rock. (That's not a knock, just not what I came for.) When I finally made my way into the venue, members of The Aces were just starting to play "Just Like That." It wasn't the boisterous hit, but captured an essence of the group: a band formed in the members' tweens and the confidence and camaraderie that comes with their longevity.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Decoding Our Emotions.

About Michael Tilson Thomas's TED Talk

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas traces the history of classical music, revealing its power to present a variety of complex human emotions.

About Michael Tilson Thomas

Producer and engineer Eddie Kramer still remembers the first time he heard Jimi Hendrix play. It was 1967 and he was assigned to work with a young guitarist that everyone in London was talking about.

"Jimi got up and plugged into the Marshall stack," Kramer remembers. "I had never heard anything like it. It just completely blew me away."

Every year for the past four years we've had a Tiny Desk Contest (there's one going on right now), and though only one band can officially win the competition, thousands enter. I inevitably end up discovering so much wonderful music while going through the submissions.