WBUR Names Berklee Alum's Song as State Favorite for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

The song "Me," by HEESU, stood out to the panel due to its emotional resonance, R&B groove, and deft blend of Korean and English lyrics.

November 18, 2021

Two years ago, songwriter Heesu Yu B.M. ’21 watched the band SsingSsing perform on NPR's acclaimed live-music series Tiny Desk Concerts, and something clicked. Seeing a band from her native Korea performing on the show gave her a jolt of creative confidence. "Hearing Korean folk music on NPR reminded me that nothing is impossible and success can be achieved internationally," she said.

Now in 2021, Yu—who performs under the name HEESU—is finding her own place in the Tiny Desk universe. For this year's Tiny Desk Contest, HEESU's song "Me" was selected by Boston's local NPR station WBUR as their favorite contest entry from Massachusetts.

"This song is about wanting to focus on yourself after being in a long-term relationship," HEESU said. Connecting to herself, in this instance, also meant exploring her Korean roots alongside her experiences in the U.S., resulting in an emotionally powerful combination of lyrics in both Korean and English. "I wrote the hook in Korean because the melody flowed better with Korean words, and I wanted to show my Korean side," she said. "The English verses are self-explanatory, so the listeners can still enjoy the song without knowing the Korean lyrics and vice versa."

As part of being selected as the state favorite, HEESU was featured in a full-length profile on WBUR's website and will be highlighted on All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She will also get the chance to perform at WBUR's CitySpace on January 28, 2022. HEESU, who studied songwriting while at Berklee, reflected that "As a Korean artist...I'm genuinely honored to be selected among talented musicians worldwide. It makes me think that there is no barrier in music."

Watch HEESU's Tiny Desk Contest entry, "Me":

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