February 28, 2017; Washington, D.C. - NPR Music is proud to introduce Tank and the Bangas of New Orleans, Louisiana, as the winning artist of the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen will formally announce the winner today on Morning Edition. Later this afternoon, All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro will speak with the band for its first interview since being named the winner. See stations and broadcast times at NPR.org/stations.
Tank and the Bangas was selected as the winning performance from over 6,000 submissions from all 50 states. Watch the entry and listen to the band's original song "Quick" at NPR.org/music.
"This video just leapt from the web," says NPR Music's Bob Boilen. "There was a vibrant interaction that had spark and surprise. Tank and the Bangas' music is packed with storytelling and personality. This is a band with a vision and a sense of humor. It's what makes me want to dig deeper into their music."
Originating from New Orleans, Tank and the Bangas exhibits many of the city's qualities, but it's the group's flair that sets it apart. Tank and the Bangas' performances are a whirlwind blend of genres — the group has brought together rock, gospel, funk, musical theater, R&B, hip-hop and slam poetry into a head-spinning melange. Tarriona "Tank" Ball is an accomplished slam poet, and her songwriting shows it. Tank and the Bangas has quilted a unique sound that makes it one of the more distinctive groups to come out of New Orleans. They've opened for acts such as Lianne La Havas, PJ Morton, Galactic, Big Freedia, The Revivalists and The Soul Rebels.
"I'm literally looking forward to telling my closest supporters," says Ball. "They're going to be so shocked and proud of us. This is one of those amazing things that goes down in the books. I know that this is the kind of opportunity that changes your entire life. I like those kind of changes."
"Being named a winner of an important artistic contest by NPR, an organization of which I am a lifelong fan and an institution that champions the arts, is the biggest honor I've ever been granted," adds band member Albert Allenback.
Tank and the Bangas is made up of Tarriona "Tank" Ball on lead vocals; Anjelika "Jelly" Joseph on background vocals; Joshua Johnson is the band's musical director and also plays the drums; Merell Burkett Jr. is on main keys; Norman Spence II plays the auxiliary keys; Jonathan Johnson plays bass; and Albert Allenback plays the alto saxophone and flute.
This year, NPR Music tapped Tiny Desk alumni to judge the Contest: R&B crooner Miguel, glam-punk rocker Ben Hopkins of PWR BTTM, gospel-tinged R&B singer Anthony Hamilton, electropop singer BANKS and jam band icon Trey Anastasio of Phish. The panel also featured three NPR Member station tastemakers: WFUV Program Director Rita Houston in New York City, World Cafe contributing host Talia Schlanger from WXPN in Philadelphia and Stas THEE Boss (formerly of hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction) at KEXP in Seattle.
"Tank and the Bangas is like a psychedelic joy rap explosion," says Anastasio. "Like a female Sly Stone teleporting into 2017 and landing in New Orleans. I love this video. It makes me want to be there."
"Just try not to fall in love with these ambassadors of good times," adds WXPN's Schlanger. "Their joy is infectious, their musicality is undeniably tight and their swagger is so, so thrilling. They're also bursting with the sense of community and shared love that Tiny Desk is all about. I can't imagine a worthier group of champs!"
These artists and Member station representatives joined Boilen and All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton in choosing Tank and the Bangas as the Contest winner.
For the third year, Lagunitas Brewing Company has provided exclusive support for the Tiny Desk Contest.
Along with newfound national exposure, Tank and the Bangas will perform an official Tiny Desk concert, to be released in early March as part of the regular NPR Music series.
Tank and the Bangas will also perform at a live taping of NPR's Ask Me Another, and will go on a national tour with NPR Music, NPR Member stations and Lagunitas as part of the Tiny Desk Contest On The Road live event series. The band will perform with local Contest entrants at Lagunitas Taprooms in Azusa, Calif. (KVCR); Chicago, Ill. (WBEZ); Portland, Ore. (opbmusic); Petaluma, Calif. (KQED and KRCB); Charleston, S.C. (South Carolina Public Radio) and their new partner Independence Brewing in Austin, Texas (KUTX).
The Tiny Desk Contest On The Road series taking place in April and May will also include celebrations of local talent in Philadelphia, Pa. (WXPN); Seattle, Wash. (KEXP); New York, N.Y. (WFUV); and Nashville, Tenn. (WMOT and WPLN).
Since its launch in 2008, nearly 600 performances have been recorded at the Tiny Desk, Boilen's festive workspace at NPR Headquarters adorned with years of music mementos and memorabilia. The series has provided a stage for artists from across the genre spectrum and at every phase of their careers — pop balladeer Adele, R&B sensation (with or without the Auto-Tune) T-Pain, Latin star Carrie Rodriguez, singer-songwriter Julien Baker, jazz legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton, genre-busting drummer and singer Anderson .Paak, blues hitmaker William Bell, country singer Margo Price, classic rocker Graham Nash, inventive violinist Rachel Barton Pine, even the Blue Man Group.
An archive of the entire series is available at NPRMusic.org, YouTube and on Roku via the free, HD-quality Tiny Desk Concerts channel.
About NPR Music
NPR Music collaborates with NPR's newsmagazines, public radio Member stations and the passionate NPR community to celebrate great music in every genre. Visit NPRMusic.org to find the complete Tiny Desk Concerts series, live music, extensive archives of performances, interviews and reviews of artists from all genres.
About Lagunitas Brewing Company
Lagunitas Brewing Company began on a kitchen stove in Northern California in 1993. From actually getting beers into bottles and onto the streets, expanding the Petaluma Brewery, building a second brewery in Chicago and soon a third in Azusa CA, to adding TapRooms in both Charleston and Seattle and then bringing its flagship IPA across the pond, Lagunitas could probably make good beer on the Moon. Wherever you go, beer speaks, people mumble. More mumblings at www.lagunitas.com.
Are you a journalist with questions about NPR Music, Tiny Desk Contest winners and press access to stops on the Contest's nationwide tour? Please contact:
Hugo Rojo, NPR Media Relations