Watch Jacksonville Artists’ 2024 Tiny Desk Contest Videos


The Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2024, with a new (and stacked) panel of judges and another opportunity for unsigned artists to earn an invite to perform on the revered, improvised stage located in offices of NPR Music’s Washington, D.C. HQ.

  • Listen to our interview with Tiny Desk producer and returning judge Bobby Carter.

Over the past nine years, tens-of-thousands of musicians have submitted their videos to the Tiny Desk Contest (TDC) in the hopes of being chosen to perform as part of NPR Music’s signature music discovery series. This year — the tenth year of the contest — thousands more submitted their videos before the February 21 deadline, including a handful of artists from Jacksonville.

Checkout the entries below from all the artists hoping to go from Duval to the Desk and keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of this year’s winner.

Kale That Raps – “Pray”

Savvy followers of the Jacksonville Music Experience will recognize the casual flow and sharp writing of Duval artist Kale That Raps. Two of Kale’s 2023 singles “A Good Talk” and “Flowers While I Live” have been in rotation on JME’s music discovery radio station since late last year. And, often alongside Duval neo-soul singer Kenzie’s Place, Kale’s been a fixture on local stages (read a review of Kale’s single “A Heartbeat” here). For his TDC submission, Kale delivers a singular invocation. Backed by a crack band of musicians, Kale’s “Pray” is an emotionally intelligent devotional, offering humility and empathy.

Melissa Case Live Band – “Good Vibes”

The song title says it all. On “Good Vibes” the Melissa Case Live Band offer an infectious ode to PMA, a stance that’s not hard to embrace when backed by the sweet harmonies and the smooth funk (with a surprising little reggae tempo shift) delivered by this Jacksonville group.

Nakupenda (Ebony Payne-English) – “The Breaks”

The unofficial poet-laureate of Duval County, the multi-disciplinary artist Ebony Payne-English has become a TDC fave. Last year, her entry video earned a Tiny Desk “Top Shelf” nomination and this year’s entry, “The Breaks” was named an NPR Music “Desk of the Day.” On “The Breaks,” Payne-English’s backing band displays both versatility and agility in keeping up with the front-woman’s dynamic flow, which bounces from prayerful recitations to spoken-word stanzas to hard-hitting hip-hop bars.

ROADIE – “Ball of String”

For her TDC 2024 entry, Jacksonville singer-songwriter Alexis Rhode, who also fronts the rock band Bad Madonna, performed “Ball Of String,” the debut single from her new solo project as ROADIE (read a review of the release here). “I Guess I Got in With the Wrong Crowd,” Rhode sings on the track’s opening verse, strumming a melancholic progression on her acoustic guitar before — shortly thereafter — an artfully timed camera pan reveals a full ensemble of upright bass, drums, violin and guitar (arguably the right crowd!).

Cosmic Link – “Let It Go”

Those who came early to JME‘s recent presentation of jazz harpist Brandee Younger on the WJCT Soundstage will be familiar with Jay Myztroh’s project Cosmic Link. Myztroh opened the show that night and impressed with the kind of the fusion of soul and hip-hop, R&B and jazz that makes his performance of “Let It Go” (from Cosmic Link’s 2023 self-titled debut) a standout entry to this year’s TDC.

Angela Dawn – “The Unfinished Symphony”

Singer-composer and multi-instrumentalist Angela Dawn shared her gorgeous piece “The Unfinished Symphony,” which features Dawn on guitar and violin, as well as a costume change.

Street Preacher – “Nassau Sound”

The Duval sextet Street Preacher shared a Southern-rock inflected blues number “Nassau Sound,” which shimmers with references to beach-adjacent landscapes, tight vocal harmonies and an evocative guitar solo.

Darren Ronan – “Here It Feels the Same”

Singer-songwriter Darren Ronan’s submission exemplifies Northeast Florida’s storied connection to American roots music — folk, bluegrass, blues and country. With fiddle accompaniment, Ronan spins a sweet lamentation of time passing.

Cashews Clay – “Slow Motion”

Northeast Florida’s Cashews Clay (not to be confused with popular indie-soul-jazz-R&B artist Cautious Clay) shared a heartfelt indie-pop ditty that perfectly foreshadows the temperate spring ahead here on the First Coast.

Our Future Leaders – “Inadequate”

A barebones, guitar-and-vocals number, “Inadequate” by Future Leaders is reminiscent of the kind of authentic acoustic performances with which the Tiny Desk got its start.

Tugra – “Will You Come With Me”

On “Will You Come With Me,” the multi-instrumentalist (and, by the looks of it, a one-man production house) Tugra evokes Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Hovvdy and an assortment of indie artists with an ear for melody, harmonic interplay and tasteful, layered song craft.

Caribe Groove – Quiero

Local-festival mainstays, Caribe Groove got in on the TDC action with their original tune “Quiero.” For those who want infectious, Latin-pop delivered by a crack band of musicians, Caribe Groove undoubtedly delivers.

In this article: