A week ago, Esperanza Spalding wasn’t anywhere near a household name — independent music lovers might have been slightly familiar and jazz enthusiasts, even moreso, but after last Sunday’s Grammy Awards were announced (of which she won ‘Best New Artist’), the 26-year old jazz vocalist and bass player definitely got a whole new spotlight shone on her.
Spalding’s recent release, Chamber Music Society (listen/watch the video for the first track, “Little Fly”, above), ably shows off her light and sweet vocal style and is a testament to years spent practicing, composing and performing on the bass, her instrument of choice while attending the famed Berklee College of Music, her schooling begun at the young age of sixteen. Spalding, upon finishing her full-scholarship education at Berklee, went on to become the youngest instructor in the history of the university at the age of twenty, also performing and writing continuously in her free time.
Concord Music Group, who represents Spalding, says this of her recent Grammy win:
“Concord Music Group is proud to announce that bassist, singer and composer Esperanza Spalding has won the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. Winners were announced by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY® Awards on Sunday, February 13, 2011, at Staples Center in Los Angeles….Spalding is the first jazz musician to ever win the Best New Artist GRAMMY® Award. She was nominated along with Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & the Machine, and Mumford and Sons.
“‘Esperanza is a phenomenal artist, and we’re thrilled about her GRAMMY® win,’ says Mark Wexler, Senior Vice President and Label Manager, Jazz and Classics Group. Concord Music Group chief label officer Gene Rumsey add[s], ‘Esperanza embodies everything a ‘Best New Artist’ should: inspired vision, unique creativity and masterful musicianship. The Concord team is extremely pleased to be associated with such an outstanding artist.’
“Spalding combines the imaginative flights of a serious improviser with the musical accessibility of a pop star and within two years of her solo debut has reached nearly unimaginable heights. Esperanza, her 2008 release, spent over 70 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart and was the most successful internationally selling debut that year. Chamber Music Society, Spalding’s most recent release, is a brilliant marriage of string and jazz trio, and a showcase for her eclectic sensibilities along with her vocal and compositional talents. In January 2011, Chamber Music Society hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. Other career highlights include two televised performances at the White House, a Banana Republic ad campaign, features in Oprah Magazine and The New Yorker, numerous awards and high profile tour dates, capped by an invitation to perform at the 2010 Nobel Prize Ceremony in Oslo, Norway.”