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Neffy: Tiny Desk Concert

It felt good to be home, if only for one night: home, in this case, being my Tiny Desk at NPR. We were about to film Neffy, our 2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner, at my desk at NPR headquarters. My corner of the NPR Music department looked just as I had left it almost 600 days ago; it's eerie inside and nearly nightfall outside. There's no audience for this Sunday evening concert, just our five-person Tiny Desk crew.

We had filmed almost 1,000 Tiny Desk concerts before we abandoned the office in mid-March of 2020. What was then exciting yet routine now felt somewhat like a hallucination.

For Neffy, it too was a dream: — a dream come true. Her joy during the recording was contagious. Neffy is Mecca Russell, a young singer who grew up around Arlington, Va., just across the river from NPR. Her Contest-winning song "Wait Up" is about living in New York, most recently during the COVID-19 outbreak, but yearning for home. In fact, Neffy did return to her childhood home, where she recorded her winning song with just her heartfelt voice and her guitar.

"I wrote 'Wait Up' like many other songs I've written: sitting on the edge of my bed. But I didn't know it would be the song that would change my life," Neffy told us. "I got to sing lyrics I wrote in the privacy of my room late at night to a vast and loving audience is beyond my wildest dreams. For that, I am incredibly grateful, and quite frankly, still in disbelief."

We hear three more songs from Neffy during her Tiny Desk concert. It's a small window into an outstanding talent, and we're so proud to share this extraordinary moment.


  • "Like You Did"
  • "Wait Up"
  • "What If"
  • "Hangin' On Too Long"

  • Neffy: vocals, guitar

  • Producers: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Elle Mannion
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern
  • Editor: Maia Stern
  • Tiny Contest Team: Jessica Goldstein, Marissa Lorusso
  • Tiny Production Team: Bobby Carter, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.