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Kelela: Tiny Desk Concert

Kelela took her opportunity at the Tiny Desk to create something new. She swapped key pieces from her recordings (hard drums and effects) for a harp and piano. She also presented us with a challenge or two as well. While there weren't many bodies behind the Desk, the instruments left little room for movement. Pianist Briley Harris was barricaded by the keys, and background vocalists Brittney Mills and Alayna Rodgers were nestled next to Ahya Simone's big beautiful harp. When an artist presents us with a distinctive, creative vision for their performance, the fun part is collaborating to execute that idea.

This Tiny Desk was a homecoming for Kelela. She let the music do most of the speaking but not before shouting out Washington, D.C., where she was born. The setlist seamlessly showcases most parts of her catalog with a couple of brand new arrangements. "Enough" and "Take Me Apart" are almost unrecognizable, recast to allow Kelela's vocals to sit gently within the harp and keys. The singer found a thunder tube in our percussion section and tinkered with it during soundcheck. Toward the end of "The High," she sings through it to alter her voice. That exploration and experimentation perfectly capture the essence of the show.

SET LIST

  • "Raven"
  • "Take Me Apart"
  • "Bank Head"
  • "Waitin"
  • "Enough"
  • "Bluff"
  • "The High"


MUSICIANS

  • Kelela: vocals
  • Briley Harris: keys
  • Brandon Donald: drums
  • Alayna Rodgers: vocals
  • Brittney Mills: vocals
  • Ahya Simone: harp


TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame
  • Audio Technical Director: Hannah Gluvna
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Alanté Serene
  • Audio Engineer: Neil Tevault
  • Production Assistant: Elle Mannion
  • Photographer: Elizabeth Gillis
  • Tiny Desk Team: Ashley Pointer, Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bobby Carter
Bobby Carter is a leader on the Tiny Desk Concerts team for NPR Music. He's brought an ever growing roster of big names and emerging artists through NPR's HQ to squeeze behind the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and record standout performances, including Usher, Mac Miller, Noname, Anderson.Paak and H.E.R.