Listen Live Blog ›
Music for kids and their adults
Acoustic, Americana and Roots
Exploring the musical legacy of Prince and beyond
This is a ticketed event. Tickets retrievable via EventBrite. Doors will open at 6pm; seating/standing room will be first-come, first-served. Onscreen (mobile phone) tickets are acceptable. See ticket page for more information.
In her literary debut memoir, rapper and singer Dessa gives a candid account of her life in the van as a hard-touring musician, her determination to beat long odds to make a name for herself, and her struggle to fall out of love with someone in her band. Raw and intimate, Dessa demonstrates just how far the mind can travel while the body is on the six-hour ride to the next rap show.
Dessa defies category–she is an academic with an international rap career; a lyrical writer fascinated by behavioral science; and a funny, charismatic performer dogged by blue moods and a perseverant case of heartache. In “The Fool That Bets Against Me,” Dessa wonders if the romantic anguish that’s helped her write so many sad songs might be an insurable professional asset. To find out, she applies to Geico for coverage. “A Ringing in the Ears” tells the story of her father building an airplane in their backyard garage–a task that took him almost seven years. The essay titled “Congratulations” reflects on recording a song for The Hamilton Mixtape in a Minneapolis basement, straining for a high note and hoping for a break. The last piece in the collection, “Call off Your Ghost,” relays the fascinating project Dessa undertook with a team of neuroscientists that employed fMRI technology and neurofeedback to try to clinically excise her romantic feelings for an old flame.
Her onstage and backstage stories are offset by her varied fascinations–she studies sign language, algebra, neuroanatomy–and this collection is a prism of her intellectual life. Her writing is infused with fascinating bits of science and sociology, philosophical insights, and an abiding tenderness for the people she tours with and the people she leaves behind to do it.
Dessa finds unconventional approaches to all of her subjects–braiding her lived experience with academic research and a poet’s tone and timing. In the vein of thinkers who defy categorization, we get the debut of a deft, likable, and unusual voice.
Dessa is a rapper, singer, and essayist who earns her living on the road. She’s performed around the world at opera houses, rock clubs, and sometimes standing on barroom tables. Her imaginative writing and ferocious stage presence have been praised by NPR, Forbes, Billboard, the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times. As a musician, she’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 as a solo artist; a member of the Doomtree collective; and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. She’s been published by the New York Times Magazine, MPR, the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, literary journals across the country, and has written two short collections of poetry and essays. She splits her time between Manhattan, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit.
A candid conversation with Dessa about her powerful new memoir, My Own Devices (Part 1 of 2)
A candid conversation with Dessa about her powerful new memoir, My Own Devices (Part 2 of 2)
Hi, Dessa: My awkward transition from fan to critic and back again