Hear the Utah band’s song that won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest

Little Moon, based in Springville, won out over nearly 6,000 entries in the national contest.

(Little Moon) The indie-pop band Little Moon, based in Springville, Utah, has been named the winner of NPR's 2023 Tiny Desk Contest. The band's members are, from left: Bly Wallentine, Chris Shemwell, Emma Hardyman, Grace Johnson, Nathan Hardyman and Bridget Johnson.

A band from Springville, Utah, has won NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Contest, beating out nearly 6,000 entries from around the nation.

The indie-rock band Little Moon, led by singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Emma Hardyman, was announced as the winner on NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Tuesday for their single “Wonder Eye.” The decision of the judges was unanimous, NPR reported.

In the network’s online announcement of the winner, Bobby Carter, producer of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series, said “Emma’s deceptively strong voice, and the band’s ability to take the music to places completely unexpected, catapulted ‘Wonder Eye’ to the top of the heap of wonderful entries.”

Series creator Bob Boilen told NPR that “the song is a dynamic and explosive tune with a deeply emotional story.”

Another judge, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, called Hardyman’s vocal range “out of this world.”

Hardyman told NPR that she wrote the song while her mother-in-law was in hospice care, and as she and her husband, bassist Nathan Hardyman, were in the process of leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Mormonism believes in life after death, resurrection and eternal families,” Emma Hardyman told NPR. “There is beauty and comfort in our former beliefs of certainty, light and life; we honor and respect such teachings. But we also find deep beauty in uncertainty, darkness, chaos and death. Perhaps it’s all one and the same. …

“Perhaps this song was written because we realized we have been mourning various deaths our whole lives,” she continued. “Perhaps it took a major, physical death of a loved one to see that death is happening all the time — that we are always grieving something, that accepting the mysterious, shadowy nature of death can deepen one’s sense of humanity and soften the ways we see ourselves and each other.”

Little Moon — in addition to the Hardymans, the band consists of keyboardist Bly Wallentine, harpist Bridget Jackson, drummer Chris Shemwell and electric guitarist Grace Johnson — submitted songs to the Tiny Desk Contest for four years running. The band released its first album, “Unphased,” in 2020, and has come up through the same Provo club scene that fostered acts like Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees and The Aces.

Little Moon’s next scheduled performance in Utah is June 2, as one of the opening acts for Lord Huron in the opening show of Salt Lake City’s Twilight Concert Series at the Gallivan Center; the show is sold out. The band also is slated to perform at the “firelight kickoff” for Fork Fest, on Friday, June 16, in American Fork.

According to NPR, the band will headline the “Tiny Desk Contest on the Road Tour” 2023, which will feature several bands from the competition. The tour is scheduled to go to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Chicago and Houston between June 20 and July 8.

Notable past winners of the Tiny Desk Contest include blues/R&B singer Fantastic Negrito in 2015 and New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas in 2017.