Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images
Esperanza Spalding Is Making Waves In Her Own Lane
In 2010, a 26-year-old Esperanza Spalding did the unthinkable: she beat Justin Bieber, who had recently released his breakout single "Baby," and Drake, who was months from releasing "Thank Me Later" and had made waves with "So Far Gone," for Best New Artist at the 53rd GRAMMY Awards. The jazz bassist, vocalist and composer didn't have Bieber's and Drake's hype, but the Recording Academy was right, she was an artist that needed to be recognized.
That doesn't mean Spalding herself wasn't surprised at the win. She recalled the moment to the Recording Academy:
"Everybody in the press room backstage asked me the same question: 'How did it feel to beat Bieber?' And I said, 'I didn't beat him, it doesn't work like that. When this is all over, we're all colleagues. We're doing our things in our respective fields. But I'm the one taking that thing home.' I also said that he has great hair and I have great hair, too. And I still feel the same way."
Years later, Spalding may not still be as talked about as Bieber or Drake, but she has been thriving in her own lane. Since her win, she's been open about the attention it has brought her. "Once the GRAMMY thing happened, the people in the audience started to change. I might have just been imagining it," she said. "But I think I saw more diversity in the audience, and people who would not have come to a jazz concert, but they heard my name on the GRAMMYs and thought, 'OK, what's this chick about?'"
Spalding has made admirers among pop influencers, collaborating with pop music influencers like GRAMMY nominee Janelle Monae and GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars and the late Prince once said, "I thought I could play bass until I met her." On her own, she has continued to release music that is truly her own—Spalding's style doesn't stay put. The violinist's music ranges from jazz to Afro-Latino to R&B to African Rhythms. Her light voice stands out on its own too, with its calming, cool effect.
Known in the media as a jazz "phenomenon" or "genius," the Afro-Latina's creativity transcends her music. In 2017, Spalding live-streamed the creation of a 10-track album through a span of 77 hours. She reportedly came up with the idea after feeling pressure from her label to expand her audience, according to Consequence Of Sound. For her up-coming album, 12 Little Spells, Spalding has also taken a creative approach and decided to release one song a day until the release of the album on Oct. 19.
Get to know Spalding with the music below:
"The way you look at me when you think I'm not looking, tells me/Your heart's a sleeping giant worn out by someone you loved before me," begins Spalding in her track off her self-titled album, Esperanza, that Genius notes has been one of her favorites to play live.
"Touch In Mine"
Spalding showcases her impressive vocals seconds into "Touch In Mine" one of the songs on her upcoming album, 12 Little Spells. She released the video on Thursday, Oct. 11 with the follwoin words:
"For increasing the level of tenderness in one’s touch, and perceiving and comprehending communication exchanges between animate or in-animate surfaces and the fingertips. increases the sensitivity to vibrational conversation, neurogamy and empathetic response between two or more individuals touching. aides in becoming aware of the energetic exchanges between the fingertips, fingers and palms when they come in contact with any surface (animate or in-animate). To listen with touch, through surfaces, and decipher the information emitted from them."
"Dorothy Dandridge Eyes"- Janelle Monae feat. Esperanza Spalding
In a collaboration with Spalding, Monae pays tribute to Golden Globe nominated, African-American actress, Dorothy Dandrige in a pop/jazz tune.
"Old & Crazy"- Bruno Mars feat. Esperanza Spalding
In a retro, jazz influenced duo, Spalding and Mars sing about ever-lasting love and ask: " Will you still call me baby when I’m old and crazy?"