Dessa is a rapper, a singer, and an essayist who earns her living on the road. She’s performed around the world at opera houses, rock clubs, and sometimes standing on barroom tables. Her imaginative writing and ferocious stage presence have been praised by NPR, Forbes, Billboard, the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times. As a musician, she’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 as a solo artist, a member of the Doomtree collective, and she is a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. She’s been published by the New York Times Magazine, MPR, the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, literary journals across the country, and has written two short collections of poetry and essays.
Dessa has delivered presentations on art, science, and entrepreneurship for Fortune 500 companies, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, the Mayo Clinic, and universities and colleges across the country including Georgetown, Macalester, and the Universites of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis. With a funny, charismatic style, she engages, entertains, and inspires audiences from all walks of life.
She splits her time between Manhattan, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit. Her first hardcover collection, My Own Devices, is due in September of 2018 from Dutton Books.
SPEECH TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS
SENSELESS LOVE: TORCH SONGS AND BRAIN SCIENCE
Dessa makes her living as a touring musician. She’s earned a reputation as a songwriter who can produce and perform a killer torch song, i.e. tracks that run on pining, tragic love. What’s been good for her art, however, wasn’t always so good for the artist. Dessa struggled for many years to fall out of love with the same man, and even though she knew it was pointless to hope for reconciliation, she just couldn’t seem to put those feelings down.
All the traditional interventions had failed – time, distance, whiskey – and she was prepared to try something drastic. So Dessa assembled a team of neuroscientists to try to excise the love from her brain. (Her collaborators include researches from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and nuerofeedback clinician, Penijean Gracefire.) The story of her experience is funny, fascinating, suspenseful, and reveals poignant perspectives on our brains, our bodies, and the ties that bind.
- Read about Dessa’s experience with lost love and her quest for healing through science
- Dessa interviews with the Boston Globe to converse about love and what she hopes her music can bring to audiences
- Dessa is featured on NPR Music’s 40 Favorite Albums of 2018
- Explore art, science, music, and love with Dessa