Esperanza Spalding Surprises Us With Best New Artist Grammy Win
Esperanza Spalding -- the talented 26-year-old jazz bassist -- has grabbed so much attention for not only her skills at plucking strings and singing soul (like Nina Simone), but winning the Best New Artist Grammy last night over Justin Bieber.
Spalding was thrown in a category full of talent: Hip-hop Young Money star Drake, British indie folk rockers Mumford & Sons, 'Dog Days Are Over' singer Florence from Florence and the Machine, and last but not least, popster phenomenon Justin Bieber. If this was a popularity contest (which it can be at times), Bieber would have won hands down. But the Grammy Committee likes to throw curveballs on occasion, this being a perfect example.
So if you don't know about Esperanza Spalding, here are the facts: Spalding performed at President Obama's 2009 Nobel Prize awards ceremony, and more recently in a ceremony alongside jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Jack DeJohnette, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration. The Portland-born musician sites the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma as her inspiration, and after graduating from Berklee College of Music, became the youngest professor there at age 20.
Her most recent album, 'Chamber Music Society,' is her third studio release. She wrote almost all of the tracks with Gil Goldstein, which cover the typical jazz trio setup (piano, bass and drums), but also a string trio and an additional singer.
Spalding joined Bobby McFerrin during the the Grammy pre-show ceremony yesterday afternoon. The 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' singer delivered freestyle jazz vocals while Spalding rocked out on the stand-up base. "I have much more experience playing bass for other bandleaders than leading my own gigs, and I love being a sideman just as much," Spalding admits in a recent Spinner interview. "That's why I got into music. It wasn't to become my own phenomenon; it was to play music with other people."
Watch the Esperanza Spalding 'Little Fly' Music Video