Laetitia Tamko, the artist known as Vagabon, is a 25-year-old, Cameroon-born musician with a big, tenor voice just bursting with new musical ideas. I’ve seen her as a solo artist, with a band and, here at the Tiny Desk, both solo and with a bassist.
Her pride shines bright in her smile and as well it should. For someone self-taught and who’s been playing for only the past four years, her arrangements are adept and thoughtful in an independent rock music scene that can often be lyrically lazy and texturally tepid.
Vagabon’s poetry speaks to love. You can hear it in “Cold Apartment.” While she closes the Tiny Desk set with it, it was the first song she ever wrote and one that came to her during a difficult time in her life.
“And we sat on my cold apartment floor
Where we thought we would stay in love
Stay in love”
Though all the songs here are about love, Vagabon also speaks proudly to black women on her 2017 album, Infinite Worlds. There aren’t a lot of black women in this bedroom studio community of independents, a community that, especially in New York, has welcomed her and where she mostly found stimulus and guidance.
We were also treated to a new song during this Tiny Desk performance called “Full Moon In Gemini,” which, coincidentally, was performed on the day of a total lunar eclipse in Leo - she warned us all to “watch yourselves.”
One of the attractions for me as I curate artists to perform behind my office desk, is to bring budding talent to the fore. And while Vagabon’s songs are compelling, I see an even brighter future filled with inspiring poetry, imagery and sound that will be a light for many of us as listeners and those just beginning to explore thought and expression through songwriting.
• “Fear & Force”
• “Full Moon in Gemini”
• “Cold Apartment”
Lætitia Tamko, Evan Lawrence
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Jenna Sterner/NPR.
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