NPR enlisted Common for the latest episode of “Tiny Desk Concert”, their intimate video series filmed at a desk, but took things up a level by filming the set at the White House’s library.
Grammy-winning musicians Robert Glasper and Derrick Hodge were on hand to assist Common with the performance along with R&B singer Bilal who joined in for two songs.
For his 20-minute set, Common performed his classic, ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ and debuted three new songs for the audience including, ‘Letter To The Free,’ ‘The Day The Women Took Over,’ and ‘Little Chicago Boy.’
The performance was part of the White House’s inaugural “South by South Lawn”, a day-long festival that took cues from SXSW to include a lineup of music, technology, art, and more.
We’ve never done a Tiny Desk Concert that wasn’t behind my desk at NPR. But when the White House called and said they were putting on an event called South by South Lawn, a day-long festival filled with innovators and creators from the worlds of technology and art, including music, we jumped at the chance to get involved. We chose Common as the performer and the White House library as the space.
This Tiny Desk Concert was a convergence of art and soul, mixing politics with heart. Common’s choice of songs dealt with incarceration as the new slavery, imagined a time where women rule the world and honored the man he looked up to all his life, his father. For this occasion Common put together a special six-piece band of close friends that includes the great Robert Glasper, with his eloquent and delicate touch, on keyboards and Derrick Hodge, whose music spans from hip-hop to folk and has made a big imprint on the world of jazz, on bass. Common also asked his longtime friend and collaborator Bilal to sing on two songs. The performance includes three brand new songs, along with one classic, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” [sic] – NPR