The 2021 Tiny Desk Contest wrapped up last month with the announcement of this year’s winner, Neffy, and her song “Wait Up.” But the Contest’s panel of judges saw thousands of incredible entries from around the country, and Weekend Edition will be highlighting some of them over the next few months.
One of those standout entries came from musician Yosmel Montejo and his entry, “La Caliente,” which was featured on episode six of our Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf series.
Montejo was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 2011. Most of his family still lives in Cuba, and he says his song “La Caliente” was inspired by the challenges of life on the island. “If you had to translate [the title,] it means, ‘the heat,’ ” he tells NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro. But more importantly, he says, “I’m just trying to reflect what is happening in my society.”
Despite ongoing struggles in Cuba, Montejo says he wanted the song to be uplifting. “I tried to put it in a positive way,” he says. “Like, I want my people to go for it, you know? No matter what, the message is: Go for it.”
Listen to Lulu Garcia-Navarro’s interview with Yosmel Montejo in the audio player above, and watch his 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entry below.