Hometown: Oak Park, Ill.
Pairs well with: Watching the sunrise after a hard night
A five-time entrant, Grace Blackford returns to the Tiny Desk Contest to share a powerful reflection on grief and growth. Her entry "After Every Dark Night'' is inspired by a letter from her older brother who died of an overdose when she was 14. She says it took her over a decade to find the words to describe her experience, and the result is an honest and cathartic contemplation of life without a loved one. Blackford's crystal-clear voice and soothing guitar chords capture the painful journey to acceptance after loss, how time can pass yet stay frozen. Many years later she finds some peace in her brother's words and exhales a message of hope: "I see light pouring in after long nights of pain, and I understand." It's a tender tribute and patient reminder that a brighter day will come.