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Music

Sampha: Tiny Desk Concert

todayNovember 29, 2023

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Credit: Photo: Keren Carrión

When Sampha first performed at the Tiny Desk in 2017, it was just him and his keys. But for this second round, he had a very specific vision to execute. Accompanied by a spirited four-piece band who double as his background singers and percussionists, each member relishes in making music in multiple, creative configurations.

Sampha Lahai Sisay’s music is known for its sheer vulnerability in tackling the human experience. On his debut album, Process, we met a son mourning the loss of his parents while navigating the relationship with his partner and future mother of his first child. On a transcendental follow up, LAHAI, we now meet Sampha as a father and a companion, asking us to revel in the magic of our existence.

In this Tiny Desk concert, Sampha performs three songs from LAHAI — “Spirit 2.0,” “Only” and “Dancing Circles” — expertly rearranging each to sound exactly like its recorded version, allowing his ethereal voice and infectious grooves to wash over the room. Concluding the set with “Without,” Sampha and his band gather in a drum circle, creating a cacophony of percussive rhythms, building the song from the bottom up. The performance ends with Sampha singing solo at the piano, beautifully reminiscent of his first Tiny Desk, except this time with his partner and children sitting criss-cross applesauce in front of the Desk. Truly a full circle moment.

SET LIST

  • “Spirit 2.0”
  • “Only”
  • “Dancing Circles”
  • “Without”

MUSICIANS

  • Sampha: lead vocals, keys, percussion 
  • Blake Cascoe: drums, vocals, percussion
  • Elsas: keys, vocals, percussion 
  • Rosetta: bass, vocals, percussion
  • Ruthven: percussion, vocals

TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Alanté Serene, Michael Zamora
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyounai
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Keren Carrión
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Hazel Cills
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Written by: NPR

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