5. Haley Heynderickx (46 points)
SOUNDS LIKE: A folk singer loudly asserting her right to some peace and quiet.
NOTABLE VOTES: OPB music director Jerad Walker, XRAY.FM DJ Ross Beach, Banana Stand co-founder Louie Herr.
Bob Dylan taught Haley Heynderickx not to take any shit, least of all from some assholes from Germany. While on a recent tour, the 23-year-old folk singer was on a bus ride between Austria and Prague, reading Dylan's memoir, Chronicles, when a group of fellow passengers began fist-pumping and blasting dubstep.
"I was just getting really amped up, because [Dylan] was talking about shitty pop music," says Heynderickx. "I just turned around and was like, 'Hey, can you turn down your shitty music?'"
Sitting in a cafe on Southeast Belmont Street, Heynderickx readily admits that kind of confidence doesn't come naturally to her. "I feel blessed and cursed with a soft speaking voice," she says. "Just naturally growing up, I was not easily heard in loud groups of people."
With her music, it's tempting to say Heynderickx is beginning to speak up. She belts out poetic lyrics and strums her guitar roughly, giving her sound a rawness that separates it from the delicate tweeness of neo-folk. But perhaps it's more accurate to say that music allows her to create a version of herself that wants to be heard.
You can trace the evolution in her yearly submissions to NPR's Tiny Desk Contest. In this year's video, Heynderickx sits in a white room with dreary lighting, wearing all black and no makeup. She performs "The Bug Collector," from her upcoming debut full-length album. The song is as stark as the setting, but her voice is more naturalistic than on her previous entries, the guitar work a rhythmic lattice woven out of strange tuning. It's somehow both more intricate and more sparse, showing off songwriting that's grown more confident and nuanced.
Even though she still describes herself as a "pretty damn shy person," Heynderickx is nothing if not persistent, as those German bros learned. When they refused to quiet down, Heynderickx decided to drown them out—by belting Patsy Cline. In the end, Heynderickx won the battle. As they got off the bus, the bros shook her hand and gave her one of their speakers.
"I can't believe I got away with that," she says. "I just felt so proud."
NEXT GIG: March 18 at the Alberta Street Pub.
No. 1: Lithics | No. 2: Aminé | No. 3: Blossom | No. 4: Reptaliens | No. 5: Haley Heynderickx | No. 6: The Lavender Flu | No. 7: Lola Buzzkill | No. 8: Donte Thomas | No. 9: Coco Columbia | No. 10: Old Grape God | Who's Got Next? (No. 11-20) | The Complete Ballots