Daniel Caesar and his band had a clear vision for their Tiny Desk performance. While already confined to a small space, they opted to congregate at the piano, where producer and music director Matthew Burnett sat to create what feels like a fly-on-the-wall moment. We're presented a purity that's nearly impossible to capture on an album.
The success of Caesar's debut LP, Freudian, has created a groundswell of fanfare and exposure for the 23-year-old singer-songwriter. It was nominated for two Grammys and won two Junos (Canada's equivalent to the Grammys). We've seen him perform on Late Night with Seth Meyers, pop stars are serenading him with his own songs and his set at this year's Coachella festival was one of the most buzzed about (behind the queen Bey, of course). Caesar's is an organic ascent that's yet to reach its peak.
Caesar carries a coy aura about him, until he opens his mouth to sing. The years of training in church, fused with natural talent, is on full display. Supporting vocalists Camille Harrison, Danah Martin and Nevon Sinclair are in tow for the whole ride, providing some of the richest harmonies we've heard at the Tiny Desk. I found myself fixated on the playful manner in which the band members interacted with each other.
Caesar didn't hold back with the set list. He performed his three most-streamed songs (a combined 249,000,000 plays on Spotify alone), including "Best Part," which included a Tiny Desk guest appearance by NPR Music favorite H.E.R.
- "Japanese Denim"
- "Get You"
- "Best Part (feat. H.E.R.)"
Gabriella Wilson (H.E.R.), Ashton Simmonds (Daniel Caesar), Adrian Bent (Drums), Saya Gray (Bass), Matthew Burnett (Piano), Nevon Sinclair (Vocals), Danah Martin (Vocals), Camille Harrison (Vocals)
Producers: Bobby Carter, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Niki Walker, CJ Riculan, Kara Frame; Photo: Morgan Noelle Smith/NPR.