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NPR Arts & Life

Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

Albert Allenback and Tank Ball from Tank and the Bangas on Ask Me Another.
Albert Allenback and Tank Ball from Tank and the Bangas on Ask Me Another.

According to NPR Music's Bob Boilen, this year's Tiny Desk Contest received 6,600 submissions from all 50 states. He joined host Ophira Eisenberg to introduce this year's winner: Tank and the Bangas, the New Orleans-based band that blends hip hop and R&B with poetry, humor, and storytelling. The band was the judges' clear favorite, because, as Boilen put it, "There's so much life there." He continued, "It takes care of the head, cause it's a lot of thinkin'. It takes care of the bottom and the feet cause there's a lot of dancin'." This combination has instantly resonated with audiences — since winning the contest, their 2013 album Think Tanksurged to the No. 1 spot on iTunes' R&B/Soul chart.

However, vocalist Tarriona "Tank" Ball confessed to Eisenberg that the band almost didn't enter the Tiny Desk Contest! "I just did not think that we would win," she revealed. "But my best friend pushed it and I'm so thankful that she did." When the band heard that they had won, it was such a surreal moment that Tank said she was even "shocked at [her] own shock!" But the idea that Tank and the Bangas was an overnight sensation is largely an illusion. The band has been working hard and earning success for a long time, appearing on magazine covers and winning awards. Tank described the experience of being dubbed an overnight sensation as a "mix between knowing you've been a running, athletic racehorse slash people thinking you're a mystical unicorn."

The band treated the Bell House crowd to a performance of their Tiny Desk Contest submission "Quick." Then, Tank shed some light on the band's many and various musical styles, describing their sound as "soulful Disney." "Those were the soundtracks that got my heart pumpin'," Tank explained. Inspired by this, we challenged her and saxophonist Albert Allenback to a game of Disney Feud, in which they must name the most popular song from a given Disney movie according its number of plays on Spotify.

HIGHLIGHTS

Tank Ball on restarting her life after Hurricane Katrina

The fact that I was able to leave — it was the most amazing, most horrible thing that could have ever happened... when it changed my life, I was able to literally redefine whoever I wanted to be cause no one knew who I was.

Tank Ball on the early days of Tank and the Bangas

Very early we put all our money together and got an RV and was on the road. That was the dumbest, bravest, greatest decision ever... it let us know that with the support of friends and true community that you can really move. And that's what we did in that RV, we moved all around... We was in there for maybe two weeks — that was enough.

Heard On Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desks And Disney Musicals

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