Sunny War - Live @ NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

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Sunny War: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Nov. 13, 2019 | Bob Boilen -- Sunny War has a soothing voice but at the Tiny Desk, she didn't talk much, at least not until she saw the Talking Master P doll on the Tiny Desk shelf. With a huge grin, Sunny looked up, pointed at Master P and said to NPR Music's Stephen Thompson (the doll's owner), "if you want to sell it..." Stephen promptly replied, "not for sale!" To make her even more envious, he quipped, "It's signed by the man himself." It was a lighthearted moment from a heavy-hearted singer.

Sunny War's next lines, from her current album Shell of a Girl, were dark. "Before you rip your girl to shreds / Be sure you really want her dead." These are words from a young woman who has been homeless, busked on city streets and Venice Beach, left home feeling she was a burden to her distraught mother, had her life complicated by drugs, and yet still found a way to pick up a guitar and bring joy to others.

Sunny War began learning guitar from her uncle at around the age of seven. One of the early songs she learned was The Beatles' "Blackbird," an almost prophetic tune with the line, "Take these broken wings and learn to fly." But it was the fingerpicking that was the attraction for Sunny War. She loved playing guitar that way as opposed to strumming and, as you watch this Tiny Desk, you'll see what a fluid and remarkable guitar player she's become.

SET LIST
"If It Wasn't Broken"
"Got No Ride"
"Love Became Pain"
"Shell"

MUSICIANS
Sunny War: vocals, guitar; Aroyn Davis: bass; Paul Allen: percussion

CREDITS
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, Patrick Boyd; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

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Sunny War enlivens traditional folk and blues by freshening her musical attack and writing lyrics that reflect 21st century concerns. Her first album, Worthless, arrived in 2014, and she continued to gain attention over the next few years as she built up a cult following that crested with the release of 2018's With the Sun.
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