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Marcus Jade's Tiny Desk Contest entry 'Legs and Bones' speaks to his resilience

Marcus Jade recorded his Tiny Desk Contest entry with a camera nestled among houseplants in his bedroom in New York City — a space that he hasn't always had. When submitting to this year's Contest, Jade told NPR Music he's "been houseless and homeless numerous times" and that recording his entry was "the first time [he's] been stable enough to make a video like that in a long time." His Contest entry, "Legs and Bones," a remarkable soulful blues song, is one of a handful of entries we're featuring this month on Weekend Edition.

"[There] was a space and time where sometimes it just felt like I didn't know where I was going to go," Jade tells Weekend Edition's Scott Simon. "There were people that did look out and offered me a couch or extra room when it was there. But a lot of that time, there was just wandering ... and I really held onto my music to help me always have a place to be. And so that kind of really made the difference."

Jade's music and support system eventually got him off the streets, but he still holds on to all the journals he wrote in during those hard times. "That's [what] I feel makes my story a little bit more valid," he explains. He says he also held onto his guitars and used them as "a vehicle to kind of keep me afloat when I couldn't have a job or didn't have a steady income."

Jade's old journals include "pieces of poems, pieces of just real time, moments of resolution and moments of absolute uncertainty." He says those journals reflect how consistently he's been writing music over time, and how passionate he's been about wanting to tell his own story. "The more that I just try to write my own story, the more that I really feel free," shares Jade.

Reflecting on his journey now, he would like people to know that "even in the worst of my times, I was still trying to make the most of what was going on." He says, "That sense of resilience, even when I don't know where I'm going, is always something that my parents and my family really instilled in me."

He adds: "I am happy with just the way that things have been going. I really feel like my life has turned in some ways a complete 360, and I really feel like there was a lot of grace that has been given to me and I should be happy about that. ... The music really makes me happy."

Web adaptation by Elle Mannion. You can head here to read, listen and watch more from the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Hiba Ahmad
[Copyright 2024 NPR]