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Santigold Returns to Roots With Band-Backed ‘Tiny Desk’ Performance

Five-song set spanned music from debut LP Santogold and new cuts from Spirituals

Santigold, aka Santi White, may have nixed her North American tour, but those missing her live set can tune into a special one via NPR’s Tiny Desk performance.

The set hearkens back to White’s roots when she was in the punk band Stiffed. “What’s really interesting and special about this is that it gave me an opportunity when I was thinking, you know, what am I gonna do, like I’m not really an unplugged artist… And I was like, punk — which is kinda my roots as a performer — is kind of raw.” So, she assembled a band for the set.

The group included drummer Chuck Treece, who has worked with a range of artists, including Bad Brains and Billy Joel, and was in Stiffed with White. She also recruited Twin Shadow on bass, Ray Brady on guitar and synth, and Melanie Nyema and Stephany Mora served as backup singers.

She performed five songs, including her breakout single, “L.E.S. Artistes,” and “I’m a Lady” — both from her 2008 debut album, Santogold. New songs from Spirituals included “Shake” and “Fall First.” She closed with Stiffed’s “Ain’t Got Enough.”

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In an interview with Rolling Stone, White opened up about the economic and mental-health challenges plaguing those who make music for a living, which led to her decision to cancel her tour. “I don’t know any other job that you have to pay to do your job and end up in debt,” she said of the brutal career landscape artists currently face. “That’s telling all these new generations of brilliant, amazing potential artists: Don’t choose this job. And they won’t, and we’re going to lose out culturally from that.”

Though White’s not touring for now, she is keeping busy. She launched a podcast called Noble Champions and told Rolling Stone that she recently signed a book deal.

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