of NPR Music's judges for the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Kevin J. Watkins/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Kevin J. Watkins/Courtesy of the artist

"I've always loved music," says Lauren Eylise. "It's my second language." Her song "Peaks and Valleys" caught the attention of NPR Music's judges for the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest

Kevin J. Watkins/Courtesy of the artist

This year's Tiny Desk Contest wrapped up at the beginning of August with the announcement of our winner, Linda Diaz, and her song "Green Tea Ice Cream." But NPR Music's panel of judges saw over 6000 entries from around the country, and there was more than one incredible submission.

One of those standout entries was from Lauren Eylise, who submitted her original song "Peaks and Valleys." She wrote the song several years ago after she faced an unplanned pregnancy while trying to launch her music career in New York City; it's an ode to the tough decisions she had to make and the struggles that make us who we are.

"We need the sunshine and the rain to grow," Eylise says. "And I think that song is where I find a lot of strength."

NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke to Lauren Eylise about filming her entry video in a Black-owned coffee shop in Cincinnati, learning to love music from her grandfather and the church choir and about what she hopes for her music career in the future.

"My hope is really just that I can continue to create soul-stirring music that inspires people to do a little more than they did yesterday, to live a little more, to love a little more," she says. "I think that life — it's a journey that not everyone feels equipped to navigate, and I think that that's OK. I think we beat ourselves up about that, but I think that music is a beautiful guiding force. I can only hope and pray that I can be an usher, to some degree, on a much larger scale."

Listen in the audio player above and watch the video for her Tiny Desk Contest submission below.


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