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Omah Lay: Tiny Desk Concert

Omah Lay brought a calm demeanor and a bright smile to his time at NPR headquarters. By the third song of his Tiny Desk concert, "soso," I realized that the Nigerian star was exercising lots of emotions through this set.

The first two titles, "Bad Influence" and "i'm a mess," are self-explanatory, yet the message of "soso" — that he's yearning for something to take his pain away — could get lost in the song's upbeat rhythms. At any rate, Omah Lay's performance showcases a songwriter grappling with all the feels, unafraid to share them with the world.

Omah Lay rose to prominence during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic with his debut EP, Get Layd. In a short time, he's joined the slew of African artists who've dominated dance floors and infiltrated America with Afro-fusion music.

The feat is extraordinary and bittersweet, given that when he first broke through, the music industry was in a frenzy and the clubs closed. But songs like "Lo Lo" and "Free My Mind" resonated despite not booming in the big speakers, and he kept working until it was safe to come back out — and landed even more hits.

He made the trip from Nigeria exclusively for the Tiny Desk and brought his band, The Raw Soundz, from Ghana, plus percussionist Boogie and singers Monet Shelton and Domo Abrams. Together, they flipped selections from Omah's catalog, including a new version of his hit "understand" with a twist.

SET LIST

  1. "Bad Influence"
  2. "i'm a mess"
  3. "soso"
  4. "never forget"
  5. Medley: "Infinity," "bend you," "understand"

MUSICIANS

  • Omah Lay: vocals
  • Ernest "Subroza" Osei-Bonsu: guitar
  • Donald Crentsil: keys
  • Kwabena Kyeremeh Adade: drums
  • Leroy "Boogie" Greer: percussion
  • Steve Millar: bass
  • Domo Abrams: vocals
  • Monet Shelton: vocals

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault 
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern, Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Mix: Josh Rogosin
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyouani
  • Production Assistants: Jill Britton, Ashley Pointer
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Pilar Galvan
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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