Introducing Lisa Gain, Your Favorite Tiny Desk Contest Artist From Columbus

Apr 30, 2018

In the end, it was not much a contest at all. Out of more than two dozen Central Ohio bands who entered NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest, our listeners picked singer-songwriter Lisa Gain as their far-and-away favorite.

Gain has been performing music in Columbus and around Ohio for the better part of 22 years, most recently with her band Lisa Gain & the Rusty Silos. But "Wake Up Violet," the song that Columbus voted its favorite local entry in the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest, didn't get finished until three days before she entered.

In an interview with WOSU's Clare Roth, Gain said that song, which follows an aspiring screenwriter who moves to Hollywood from Ohio, was inspired by the #MeToo movement.

"I had all the victims in mind, like the Cosby victims, the Weinstein victims, that, they were told 'Nobody's going to believe you, because I'm powerful,' and that's what I had in mind when I wrote it," Gain says. "One of my friends was like, 'Hey, you need to try out for this,' but I wasn't going to do it and then I was like, this song was really meaningful. Just for this song alone, I should do it."

Gain began her musical career when she was 18, teaching herself how to play guitar and performing in coffee shops in Grove City. Since then, she's traveled to Dayton, Cleveland and Cincinnati, but always returns home to Central Ohio.

For her new album, Lisa Gain & the Rusty Silos, which is scheduled to come out in late 2018 or early 2019, Gain says she's been lucky to work with a number of Columbus-area musicians. 

"There's so many talented musicians right here, there's no need to go to Nashville to look for a great guitar player or violin player or cello player, they're here in Columbus," Gain says.

Above, hear Gain play her songs "Wake Up Violet" and "The Way You Said Goodbye," in the WOSU studios. While you're at it, please admire the actually-tiny desk that we constructed just for the occasion.

WOSU's very own "tiny desk."
Credit Nick Houser / WOSU

Thank you to all the musicians who entered the contest, and to everyone who voted!

Oh, and if you hadn't heard, the winner of the national Tiny Desk Contest was guitarist Naia Izumi, who you should absolutely check out.