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Are We There Yet? vol. 216 Thumbnail

Are We There Yet? vol. 216

In 2008, NPR launched the Tiny Desk series as part of its NPR concert series. Since then, over 1,170 performers have visited the studio in Washington, DC to perform. In an article about the concerts last summer, the New York Times' Adlan Jackson described the set as “an unassuming, tchotchke-filled corner of a Washington office.” Bobby Carter, who replaced retiring Bob Boilen as director last October, noted that artists are performing in an office that can hold 200 guests, mainly NPR staffers, and “acoustics aren’t great.”

If you look carefully at the picture with this post, you can see that Ne-Yo crammed nine accompanists in the tiny space with him behind a desk. Performances have ranged from Big Sean to Justin Timberlake to Bono to YoYo Ma to Taylor Swift to hundreds you may not have heard of. These concerts are unlike any others that these artists may have performed. There aren’t any bells and whistles. Carter noted that “what you see is what you get. But, intimacy is still the key. That won’t ever change.”

When Geoff Bennett of PBS New Hour asked Carter about his wish list, Carter said, “Oh God, where’s the camera? I’m talking to you, Sade. I’m talking to you, Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen and Kendrick Lamar. And that’s why I’m so excited. I’m still excited about this because there are so many artists who haven’t taken that shot at this yet.”

I hope that Bobby Carter has tremendous success in attracting his wish list and that the Tiny Desk series lives on forever. And if you’re having one of those days where nothing’s going right, go to the Tiny Desk playlist on YouTube and find an artist you like or someone you’ve never heard before. Watch and listen. I bet you’ll feel better. 

Take care and stay safe.


The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook by Hampton Sides

From New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides, an epic account of the most momentous voyage of the Age of Exploration, which culminated in Captain James Cook’s death in Hawaii, and left a complex and controversial legacy still debated to this day.