NPR's Tiny Desk Contest Gives Cincinnati's Lauren Eylise the Heat Check Stamp of Approval

Eylise submitted a video for her song "Peaks and Valleys," recorded at downtown's BlaCk Coffee Lounge, that NPR says is "doing the most ... in the best way possible"

May 20, 2020 at 4:48 pm
click to enlarge NPR's Tiny Desk Contest Gives Cincinnati's Lauren Eylise the Heat Check Stamp of Approval
Photo: YouTube screengrab

Cincinnatian Lauren Eylise has landed herself on NPR's Heat Check list featuring Tiny Desk Contest submissions — basically public radio's list of hot tracks to listen to "highlighting artists who aren't afraid to take risks." This compilation featured Tiny Desk "contenders who could definitely hold their own among the usual selections from the worlds of R&B, hip-hop, reggae, pop and more," said NPR's Sidney Madden. 

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest, now in its sixth year, is an offshoot of NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concert series, for which an eclectic array of artists perform intimate sets in the network’s offices for their long-running video series. 

For the contest, unsigned musical acts from across the country submitted videos and the chosen winner (who will be picked by a committee of artists and music professionals) will get their own Tiny Desk Concert, a sponsored national tour and a considerable career boost from all of the exposure. This year's deadline was pushed to April 27 because of the coronavirus pandemic and judges are currently reviewing videos to pick a winner.

For her Tiny Desk Contest submission, Eylise sent in "Peaks and Valleys."

The Heat Check write-up said: "This video is the definition of doing the most ... in the best way possible. Lauren Eylise's 'Peaks and Valleys' takes your emotions to unexpected highs and lows throughout the five-minute journey. With her buttery smooth runs, finger-pointing conviction and a sublime backing band, this song has been stuck in my head from the moment I pressed play."

Eylise referred to her music as Eclectic Soul in a CityBeat interview in 2019. It’s heartfelt Indie Folk with R&B and Soul inflections. When the full Part Time Lovers backing band joins her onstage, the worlds of Funk and electric Blues combine for a soul-stirring, vulnerable and sensual concoction.

“I believe music generally is taking a major turn,” Eylise said, describing her approach to fostering a unique medley of sounds. “Genres are becoming much more obsolete, more like guideposts as opposed to concrete boundaries. Artists, now more than ever, are able to create organically without the pressure of abiding by certain rules. You can produce an album with a variety of influences and still be successful.”