Picking one Tiny Desk Contest winner from the thousands of amazing entries we received this year wasn’t easy. Over the past few months, we’ve spent time with early standout entries; asked our judges about their top picks; and celebrated tons of creative videos. And after all that, one entry rose to the top: a song that our judges said stopped them in their tracks and commanded their attention.
Today, we’re proud to announce the winner of our 2021 Tiny Desk Contest: Neffy!
Neffy, born Mecca Russell, is a singer-songwriter from Arlington, Va., whose tender work and singular voice captured our judges’ ears from her entry’s opening lines. On “Wait Up,” Neffy’s winning song, she sings about slowing down and rooting herself in nature during a trying and tumultuous year. “I wrote what I needed to write for my soul,” she told us about her entry.
“From the first line that Neffy sings, it’s easy to get lost in her rich vocal timbre,” Contest judge Jewly Hight of member station WNXP says, noting the singer’s “understated dignity that draws a profound sense of melancholy right to the surface of each note.”
NPR Music has published a video interview with Neffy, where she speaks about her music and her Tiny Desk experience with NPR Music host Bob Boilen. During the interview Neffy talks about the support she’s received from her music-loving family as well as how artists like Adele, Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman have influenced her music.
Watch the interview below.