Who Is Esperanza Spalding?
I know I’m not the only one out there who was shocked when the Grammy winner for Best New Artist was read out. There were only 2 people we really took seriously as contenders: Justin Bieber and Drake. Thank goodness Bieber did not win though I know teenage hearts all of the world shattered at that moment. Esperanza’s win angered Justin’s fans who caused a fracas online. They immediately attacked Esperanza’s Wikipedia page, changing her middle name from “Justin” to “quesadilla” and back to “Justin” again. I’ve been trying to find out more about Esperanza. Her music is really good but she’s not a new artist. I’m kind of confused about the criteria for Best New Artist award. Despite that, I’m glad the Grammys are back to recognizing REAL talent as opposed to popular music. If you’re mad, just think of what you’d feel if Soulja Boy won a Grammy…he’s popular isn’t he? Here are a few things you need to know about Esperanza:
President Obama sings her praises. She’s headlined multiple performances for him, one following his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2009, marking the first time jazz was played at the ceremony instead of classical music.
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1984, Spalding is of African-American, Welsh and Spanish descent.
Spalding taught herself how to play the violin at the age of four and joined the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at age five. She dabbled at the guitar, oboe and clarinet before settling on the double bass at age 16.
At age 20, she became the youngest-ever faculty member at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
She’s rocked with icons. Spalding performed a jazz version of “If I Was Your Girlfriend” for Prince at the BET Awards in June.
She’s not Hollywood. Spalding shuns celebrity stylists for vintage fashions. “I would like to have a stylist, but it’s tricky: it has to be free from the trends,” she told The New York Times in October. “Otherwise people don’t really see you. They see how close or how far you are from the look you’re going for.” (I guess that’s why she wore that dress to the Grammys. Stylists should be a priority for those without great fashion sense. You can’t have it all…)
While she won the best new artist award this year, she’s been around for a while. “Esperanza,” her 2008 album, spent more than 70 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and was the most successful internationally selling debut that year. She recorded her first album, “Junjo,” in 2006.
Critics give her three cheers. USA Today called her “eclectic and charming.” The New York Times said that as a “smart, surefooted bassist and a frolicsome, irrepressible singer, she does her part to justify the acclaim.” People magazine raved, “Her soulful songs and masterful bass playing have made Esperanza Spalding a rising star.”
She’s been waiting for her moment. “I was really on this mission, kind of in my mind, to figure out how I was going to take my music and make it accessible to the pop world. ‘How am I going to turn this into like an Alicia Keys thing?'” she said in an interview with The Associated Press, published on Feb. 10. Fateful words: Keys won the best new artist Grammy in 2002.