NOEL KING, HOST:
And it is that time of year again. NPR has crowned the winner of the annual Tiny Desk Contest. We got more than 6,000 entries from all across the country. The winner will get to play at the famous Tiny Desk and will also go on tour with NPR. Here with me to announce the results of this year's contest are two of the judges. Bob Boilen is the owner of the all-important Tiny Desk. He's also the host of All Songs Considered.
BOB BOILEN, BYLINE: How are you doing?
KING: Also with us is singer Lucy Dacus.
LUCY DACUS: Hi.
KING: So let me ask you both. How were the entries this year? - 6,000 of them.
DACUS: I found the range of entries super inspiring. Like, there were so many people taking risks and just showing something of themselves that felt really, like, vulnerable or super creative. Like, a lot of things I'd never seen before, so it was really fulfilling for me just to be a witness to all of that.
KING: All right. So who is the winner?
BOILEN: The winner is Quinn Chrisopherson. He's a songwriter, lives in Anchorage, Alaska. And his songwriting is sort of all about who he is, what he's about.
KING: And who he is is a big part of his music. He also has a really interesting story. Tell us about that.
BOILEN: Well, it's important to note that we don't know the history of these people when we listen to his music. So my first impression of him - he was a very stylish, skinny guy. And he's singing this vulnerable song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ERASE ME")
QUINN CHRISTOPHERSON: (Singing) I used to be someone I hated. I used to cry a lot.
BOILEN: You know, I didn't understand the - like, the opening line, I think, is, I used to have long hair. I used to smile when I walked. I used to be someone I hated, and I used to cry a lot. And I didn't quite understand it, but I was fascinated by what he was saying. Only after loving this thing did I realize that Quinn was transgender. Then I began to understand the song better.
DACUS: Yeah. His performance seemed so earnest. And I feel like Quinn has a future of fans that will really know him and feel seen by him. I'm really proud to be a part of choosing him.
KING: His lyrics are really extraordinary because in the song, he gets to the heart of an internal conflict over what it means to now be living as a man.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ERASE ME")
CHRISTOPHERSON: (Singing) I got a voice now. I got power that I can't stand.
KING: And that just blew me away. What about his music specifically stood out to each of you?
DACUS: I found myself upset that I hadn't heard the song yet and that I hadn't heard this perspective yet. Part of the song is, I'm - you know, he has this refrain where he says, I'm tired of people trying to erase me. I really felt that. And he says it over and over, almost as if, like, you'll understand it more each time that he says it. I kept coming back to the video, which is why I was such a big proponent for his win.
BOILEN: I was just fascinated and wanted to learn more about him. And that's what - to me, when I look for a winner, it's learning about someone who I want to know more about. I want to see their story unfold. I want - I know that there's much more depth. And that's what, for me, is a winner.
KING: Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, and Lucy Dacus, one of the judges, thank you guys both so much.
BOILEN: Thank you.
DACUS: Thank you for having me.
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