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Omah Lay Performs On NPR Tiny Desk Stage 

Exercising lots of emotions through this set, Omah Lay’s performance showcases a songwriter grappling with all the feels, unafraid to share them with the world. The first two titles, “Bad Influence” and “i’m a mess,” are self-explanatory, yet the message of “soso”, the third song on the setlist, could get lost in the song’s upbeat rhythms. He wrapped up his session with an uptempo medley performance of “Infinity,” “bend you,” and “understand.”

Tiny Desk features a series of live performances from the Washington, D.C. working space of Bob Boilen, a musician and NPR broadcaster. Omah Lay now adds her name to an expanding list of notable African performers who have performed on the well-known Tiny Desk stage, including Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, Naira Marley, Fireboy DML, and Adekunle Gold. The program celebrated its 1000th performance in September when Beninese music icon Angélique Kidjo also performed there.

Omah Lay rose to prominence during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic with his debut EP, Get Layd. In a short time, he’s joined the slew of African artists who’ve dominated dance floors and infiltrated America with Afro-fusion music. The feat is extraordinary and bittersweet, given that when he first broke through, the music industry was in a frenzy and the clubs closed.

But songs like “Lo Lo” and “Free My Mind” resonated despite not booming in the big speakers, and he kept working until it was safe to come back out — and landed even more hits. He made the trip from Nigeria exclusively for the Tiny Desk and brought his band, The Raw Soundz, from Ghana, plus percussionist Boogie and singers Monet Shelton and Domo Abrams. Together, they flipped selections from Omah’s catalog, including a new version of his hit “understand” with a twist.

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