More than 6,000 artists submitted to this year’s Tiny Desk Contest, and today NPR announced the winner: Quinn Christopherson, a transgender Inupiaq artist.
While we were rooting for a Milwaukee artist to take the honor, it’s easy to see what the judges saw in Christopherson, whose raw performance of “Erase Me” details the bittersweet privilege of living as a man and exorcises the frustrations of feeling unseen. “I got a voice now, and I got power,” he wails, “but I can’t stand it!” You can stream his winning video below.
“Quinn’s entry captivated our judge panel, myself
included, from start to finish,” writes NPR’s Bob Boilen. “His powerful song ‘Erase
Me’ is a nuanced take on his experience as a transgender man coming to terms
with the power of his voice. Standing in front of a majestic painting of Mt.
Denali, Quinn and his bandmate Nick Carpenter created their own work of
“When I called Quinn to tell him the good news, he was amazed and surprised. ‘You just made my entire life,’ he told me. He was also extremely humbled, saying he had ‘watched so many entries’ featuring ‘so many talented people.’ He’s right: We saw so much talent this year. But in the midst of all those entries we watched, it was his song the judges and I couldn’t stop playing.
“Lucy Dacus, one of our judges, said, ‘Quinn’s performance stood out for its honesty, vulnerability, and originality. I found myself watching the video over and over because it didn’t remind me of anything.’ She praised the song for its earnest message, adding, “sometimes the most difficult songs to share are the ones that communicate a complex feeling concisely and poetically.’”
Quinn will be interviewed on “All Things Considered” this afternoon, and will be invited to Washington, D.C., to play his own Tiny Desk concert ahead of four-city Tiny Desk Concert tour in June.