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Tiny Desk Contest entrant Oh He Dead on newfound motherhood and love

The Washington, D.C.-based band Oh He Dead entered its song "The Foreigner" into the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest.
Courtesy of the artist
The Washington, D.C.-based band Oh He Dead entered its song "The Foreigner" into the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest.

2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner Neffy recently claimed her Contest prize, performing her very own Tiny Desk concert. But NPR Music discovered thousands of up-and-coming artists through this year's Contest, and Weekend Edition is highlighting some standout entries this fall.

One of those noteworthy entries is "The Foreigner," which comes from Washington, D.C. band and three-time Contest entrant Oh He Dead. The band's lead singer, C.J. Johnson, composed the lyrics for the band's entry in 2020 when she was pregnant with her first child.

"I was nervous about a lot of things," C.J. says, sharing her worries about the responsibilities that come with being a new mother, plus others' reactions to her pregnancy. When she looked up what her son's name Wallace meant, "the foreigner" popped up. "Oh, this is interesting," she thought at the time. "I never felt like he was a foreigner at all. But the territory was foreign — of me stepping into that new role of being a mom."

Despite nerves, Johnson says she was excited to be a mom. "I thought I wouldn't be alright, tossing and turning all night," she sings in the entry. "But I fell in love with my baby, I fell in love with our love."

Wallace is now one year old, and Johnson thinks he'll be a superhero for Halloween.

Listen to Asma Khalid's interview with Oh He Dead's C.J. Johnson in the audio player above, and watch the band's 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entry below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Ned Wharton is a senior producer and music director for Weekend Edition.

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