South Carolina’s Toni Esther Caught the Ears of NPR Music with Tiny Desk Contest Entry, “Thrift Shop”

The time has come for the annual round of submissions for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest, when artists from all over are invited to submit a performance for consideration on the famous web series. Often times these submissions seem to be never heard of again after the initial push, but this year for the first time, at least a my knowledge, a South Carolina artist was recognized by the platform. That artist was none other than Florence native Toni Esther, who submitted a live performance of her 2019 song “Thrift Shop”, backed by the nine-piece ensemble beyondMARS. The submission was posted on NPR Music’s Instagram story on Friday as their choice for #DeskOfTheDay.

We first caught wind of Toni Esther in the fall of 2020, with her single “Soul Glow” that showcased her skill at both soulful singing and rapping. The Tiny Desk Contest performance of “Thrift Shop” confirms in high-quality live format that Toni Esther is indeed a badass, and the backing band beyondMARS really brings the grooves. We’re stoked to see that a larger outlet has given her some well-deserved recognition.

Watch Toni Esther and beyondMARS performing “Thrift Shop” live for the NPR Music Tiny Desk contest below.

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