Today, I’m highlighting one of my favorite jazz artists of today, Esperanza Spalding. I discovered her on a road trip with my family 2 years ago. I listened to her second album Esperanza all the way home and wore the album out for two weeks. I was infatuated with her that summer, the lightness of her voice, the thickness of her afro, her versatile from the proper cello, to the swinging upright bass, to the funky bass guitar. Luckily, it was shortly before the release of her most recent album Radio Music Society later that April.
Spalding is a classically trained cellist, bassist, and singer from Portland, Oregon. She became famously, or to some infamously, known for winning the Grammy for Best New Artist over favorite and presumed front runner, Justin Bieber in 2011. A prodigy, Spalding, was homeschooled, obtained her GED, and later attended the Berklee College Of Music on a full ride scholarship as a teenager. Her talent impressed the administration such that she was asked to join Berklee’s faculty after graduating becoming the youngest professor in the school’s history at age 20.
She’s released 4 albums in her career so far: Junjo, Esperanza, Chamber Music Society, and Radio Music Society. Her first two albums showcased the singer’s affinity towards Latin Jazz, specifically music from Brazilian composers, Junjo, which was primarily an instrumental Latin Jazz album and Esperanza, which featured Spalding singing in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. The Music Society albums focused on the different types of contemporary jazz with Chamber Music Society focusing on acoustic and orchestral arrangement and Radio Music Society taking a more funkified fusion approach to jazz taking the route of R&B and Neo-Soul.
Now that you know, enjoy her work!