Esperanza Spalding Is Making Waves In Her Own Lane

Esperanza Spalding

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images


Esperanza Spalding Is Making Waves In Her Own Lane

Meet the Afro-Latina jazz bassist who won Best New Artist at the GRAMMY Awards in 2010, leaving Drake and Justin Bieber in the dust

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2018 - 04:23 am

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:

"I Know You Know"

"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?"

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

Mumu Fresh On What She Learned From Working With The Roots, Rhyming & More

Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY


Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

Attention Music Fans: Take The GRAMMY Challenge NOW On KIK And Facebook Messenger

Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs



Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

Getting The Latest Music News Just Got Easier. Introducing: GRAMMY Bot. Find it On KIK and Facebook Messenger