Bob Boilen Bids Adieu: Reflecting on Tiny Desk at SXSW

October 2, 2023 Julia Pinto

'Tiny Desk' Creator Bob Boilen Retires from NPR

In the world of music, one name stands out as a beacon of creativity and innovation: Bob Boilen. With a career spanning an impressive 35 years at NPR, Boilen’s contributions to the world of storytelling in music are immeasurable. From directing, “All Things Considered” to creating and hosting “All Songs Considered" and the iconic Tiny Desk Concert series, Boilen has left a mark on the industry.

Tiny Desk Origin Story

In 2008, Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson, a co-producer at NPR Music, were on a SXSW venture to cover the festival that eventually led to them stopping to see Laura Gibson perform. The venue was a loud and rowdy bar and it prompted Thompson to make a comment to Gibson to “just come play in our office.” A few weeks later, Gibson showed up at the NPR office in DC ready to perform. Captured and edited by Bob Boilen himself, the session was then uploaded online, marking the birth of NPR'S Tiny Desk. It was a celebration of music in its purest form and audiences around the world embraced it wholeheartedly.

Tiny Desk at SXSW

Fast forward to 2019, when Tiny Desk made its debut at SXSW. The Tiny Desk Family Hour Showcase was introduced, featuring nine surprise musical guests who captivated the SX audience. Although 2020 brought a global pandemic that disrupted the world and led to the cancellation of SXSW 2020, NPR Music didn’t let the setback deter them. In 2021, a virtual 'stage' of Tiny Desk (Home) concerts for SXSW Online was programmed and presented as Tiny Desk Meets SXSW to keep the spirit of music alive during challenging times.

In 2022, Tiny Desk Meets SXSW continued the tradition of bringing together talented artists for unforgettable performances. It stands as a testament to Bob Boilen’s vision and commitment to the power of music.

A Farewell to a Remarkable Career

As we bid adieu to Bob Boilen’s 35-year career at NPR, it’s hard not to reflect on the impact he has had on the world of music and storytelling. His creation of Tiny Desk, especially its memorable moments at SXSW, will forever be etched in our hearts.

His legacy and the music he's championed will continue to inspire generations of artists and listeners alike. Thank you, Bob, for bringing us the gift of music, one Tiny Desk at a time.

Watch Tiny Desk at SXSW

Immerse yourself in the mesmerizing realm of Tiny Desk Showcases, awaiting you on our YouTube playlist. Experience the electrifying performances by artists like Gina Chavez, Steady Holiday, KAINA, Cautious Clay, Yasser Tejeda & Palotré, Maxo Kream, Fragile Rock, clipping, Pom Pom Squad, Wyclef Jean, John Paul White, DUCKWRTH, Yard Act, Gaelynn Lea, LeiKeli47, and Mountain Man. It's a journey through time, a celebration of boundless talent, and a tribute to the man who made it all possible.

The post Bob Boilen Bids Adieu: Reflecting on Tiny Desk at SXSW appeared first on SXSW.


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