NPR | By Bobby Carter / Published May 15, 2023 at 1:25 PM ET
NPR Music received nearly 6,000 entries to this year’s Tiny Desk Contest, the annual search for the next great undiscovered artist to play a Tiny Desk concert. But one Springville, Utah, band rose to the top as its entry surprised the judges, moved them to tears and filled them with hope.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce Little Moon is the winner of the 2023 Tiny Desk Contest.
This is Little Moon’s fourth year entering the Contest, a real testament to never giving up. Little Moon’s entries have impressed Contest judges since 2020, but this year, the band leveled up — and the judges noticed. Albina Cabrera of NPR Member station KEXP shared the band’s winning entry, “Wonder Eye,” as one of her favorites on Top Shelf last month, noting its powerful message and applauding singer Emma Hardyman’s exceptional voice and the togetherness of the entire band. A few weeks later, when all the judges came together to decide on a winner, the decision to crown Little Moon was unanimous. “Emma’s deceptively strong voice, and the band’s ability to take the music to places completely unexpected, catapulted ‘Wonder Eye’ to the top of the heap of wonderful entries,” said Tiny Desk series producer Bobby Carter. Singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten said Hardyman’s vocal range was “out of this world.” Series creator Bob Boilen shared: “The song is a dynamic and explosive tune with a deeply emotional story.”
Emma Hardyman told us the song was written under heavy circumstances: Her mother-in-law was in hospice care, while she and her husband, bassist Nathan Hardyman, were in the process of leaving the Mormon church. “Mormonism believes in life after death, resurrection and eternal families,” she said. “There is beauty and comfort in our former beliefs of certainty, light and life; we honor and respect such teachings. But we also find deep beauty in uncertainty, darkness, chaos and death. Perhaps it’s all one and the same.”
She added: “Perhaps this song was written because we realized we have been mourning various deaths our whole lives. … Perhaps it took a major, physical death of a loved one to see that death is happening all the time — that we are always grieving something, that accepting the mysterious, shadowy nature of death can deepen one’s sense of humanity and soften the ways we see ourselves and each other.” You can hear more from Hardyman this afternoon, when she’ll do her first NPR interview as the Contest winner on All Things Considered.
Soon, Little Moon — Emma and Nathan Hardyman, plus keys player Bly Wallentine, harpist Bridget Jackson, drummer Chris Shemwell and electric guitarist Grace Johnson — will play a Tiny Desk concert at NPR’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. And in June, the band will headline the annual Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour, playing alongside local Contest entrants (soon to be announced) across the country. You can get tickets for the tour at NPRPresents.org.