Meet Alisa Amador, the winner of the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest This year's winner is a songwriter from Boston, Mass., whose winning song is an ode to feeling like she doesn't fit neatly into any one box.

Meet Alisa Amador, the winner of the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest

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This morning, our colleagues at Morning Edition got to make the big announcement. The winner of the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest is...


ALISA AMADOR: (Singing in Spanish).

KELLY: That is Alisa Amador and her song "Milonga Accidental."


AMADOR: (Singing in Spanish).

KELLY: It's so good. And I want to note this was the fifth time that Alisa had entered - total testament to the power of never giving up.

AMADOR: (Laughter).

KELLY: So without further ado - maybe just a little, little drum roll here...


AMADOR: (Laughter).

KELLY: I wanted to say welcome. Alisa is with us today. Welcome. Congratulations.

AMADOR: Hello, Mary Louise. This is such an honor, and it really does feel quite surreal. Thank you for having me.

KELLY: Thank you for joining us. Can I start there with - this was the fifth time you've entered.

AMADOR: (Laughter).

KELLY: It's amazing.


KELLY: What made you think, you know, maybe I'm just going to give this thing one more shot?

AMADOR: Oh, my God. Well, I did not think I was going to be sending in a song this year. And about 48 hours before the deadline, I just had this idea for a video where I would share a song in Spanish for the first time, but...

KELLY: Oh, you've submitted in English before?

AMADOR: I've always submitted in English, and so this time I made a video with a song in Spanish, and I created these little animations that I called a visual translation of the lyrics so that even if people don't speak Spanish - yet, I like to say...

KELLY: (Laughter).

AMADOR: Even if they don't speak it yet, they can understand what's behind this song.


AMADOR: (Singing in Spanish).

"Milonga Accidental" - well, milonga is a folk rhythm from Argentina and Uruguay, and that's where my grandfather's from. And I lived there for a period of time in my early 20s. And it's a really driving rhythm.


AMADOR: (Singing in Spanish).

I've always felt like I identified with Argentina and my mom's Puerto Rico and my dad's New Mexico and all of the other places where my family is from and all of the places where I've lived. And it can feel sometimes like all of those identities and places are clashing or, like, I don't fit neatly into one box, and this song is an ode to that.

KELLY: So I want to go to the moment you get the call. You're told you win - you finally won it - which, as you know, has propelled past winners to the Grammy Awards, towards Broadway...

AMADOR: OK, OK, don't stress me out.


KELLY: I'm just pointing to all the doors you could walk through if you wanted to.


KELLY: But it - was it a mix, then, of feeling, oh, my God, I'm so excited, and oh, my God, what am I going to do with this?

AMADOR: Yes, that is very accurate. Honestly, in the last few months, I was starting to really plan an exit from a career in music.

KELLY: Really?

AMADOR: Yes. So it's just been so hard for all of us. And a career in independent music is challenging in good times, and these have been uniquely painfully difficult times. So I was feeling so wrung out that, in the last couple of weeks, I was starting to, like, do the logistics of when I would stop taking gigs, when would be my last gig.

I need to write a resume. I've never written a resume because I've just been a musician full-time my whole adult life. Like, where will I work? I don't know what I have to do, and grieving - grieving this thought of letting go of music, but feeling like I'm just so tired, I don't think I can keep doing this.

KELLY: Just so amazing how life throws you these curveballs. Wow.

AMADOR: Yeah (laughter). My friends call it an intervention from the universe (laughter).

KELLY: I think that's about right. Well, may I say, I am so glad you stuck with it. I'm so glad...

AMADOR: Thank you.

KELLY: ...You gave it a fifth swing, and congratulations.

AMADOR: Thank you so much, Mary Louise. It's such an honor. I do not take this lightly. I just feel really honored - really, really honored.

KELLY: It is a total joy to lift you and your music up. Congratulations again.

AMADOR: Thank you.

KELLY: That is Alisa Amador. She is the winner of the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest, and her song is "Milonga Accidental."


AMADOR: (Singing in Spanish).

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