This year's Tiny Desk Contest was unlike any other. Amid lockdowns, social distancing guidelines and ongoing adjustments to daily life, over 6,000 dedicated unsigned artists sent in their songs in the hopes of performing a Tiny Desk concert. We received entries from every state in the country, and those inspiring entries helped us feel connected in a year of isolation. This year, our judges' decision was a particularly tough one (something they talked about in every episode of Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf), but there was one entry that rose to the top — a video that several of our judges called "a perfect Tiny Desk Contest entry."
We're proud to announce that Linda Diaz is our 2020 Tiny Desk Contest winner! Diaz is a singer and songwriter from New York City, and her winning entry, "Green Tea Ice Cream," has a powerful message and euphoric sound. To me, Diaz's song is about slowing down and trying to find moments to enjoy life. Hearing her sing the line, "you should be living out your dreams / but you're tearing at the seams" seemed particularly poignant this year as we're all struggling to find balance in our lives.
Diaz's compelling entry and captivating stage presence left a mark on our other judges, too. "Linda stood out in a crop of thousands of talented musicians, but I knew early on that she was the one to beat," Tiny Desk producer and Contest judge Bobby Carter said. "Her tone, her message and the band's overall musical presentation were simply undeniable." Carter was so impressed with Diaz's entry early on that he interviewed her in the very first episode of Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf.
Judges Tarik Moody of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and Tiny Desk alumna Gina Chavez agreed that we all needed Diaz's entry this year. "It was meditative and reminded me to take care of myself during this craziness that is 2020," Moody said. Chavez added, "If harmonies are medicine, then Linda Diaz is a salve for the soul."
Our other judges — 2019 Contest winner Quinn Christopherson, Tiny Desk alumna Brittany Howard and World Cafe host Raina Douris — also praised the entry, citing Diaz's top-notch musicianship and songwriting skills, as well as her angelic voice and the warmth her entry radiated.
This afternoon, you can learn more about Diaz (fun fact: She's a former scholastic chess champion) in her interview on All Things Considered. And next up, in socially distant 2020 fashion, she'll perform a Tiny Desk (home) concert. When she does, we hope you'll join us to congratulate her and celebrate the achievements of all the artists who entered this year's Contest.
To Linda Diaz: Congratulations and welcome to the Tiny Desk family. We're so excited for what's to come. And to all the artists who put themselves out there this year: Thank you for sharing your music with us and giving us something to celebrate.
Bo Hamby and Phil Harrell produced and edited the audio of this interview. Elle Mannion and Marissa Lorusso adapted it for the Web.