Arts & Culture

NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest Winner Releases New Album

Minnesota-based musician Gaelynn Lea appeared on Houston Public Media’s “Skyline Sessions” in 2017.

Gaelynn Lea (photo by Richard Carter)
Gaelynn Lea (photo by Richard Carter)

Since winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2016, singer/violinist Gaelynn Lea has played over 250 shows in 42 states and seven countries, inspiring audiences with music that ranges from experimental to pop, and which touches on universal themes of existence: birth and death, joy and sorrow, dark and light. Lea’s disability, the condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta, prompted her to adapt an alternative style to playing the violin, and she augments her arrangements with a looping pedal, creating multi-layered soundscapes. She visited Houston Public Media in 2017 to record a couple of songs for Skyline Sessions, after appearing at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin.

For her new album Learning How to Stay, which is officially released today (Sept. 7), Lea enlisted several musicians to flesh out her usually minimal arrangements, and the result is an album that finds Lea exploring musical styles and textures, while delivering lyrical messages of compassion and encouragement. Listen to the new album below, and watch Lea perform her original song “Watch the World Unfold,” as well as her unique version of the traditional Irish fiddle tune “Swallowtail Jig.”

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