Congratulations to jazz bassist, vocalist, and Prince buddy Esperanza Spalding, who is nominated for a “Best New Artist” Grammy. On Feb 13, Spalding will go against Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & The Machine, and Mumford & Sons for the trophy. Beforehand, she’ll co-host a pre-Grammy extravaganza featuring performances from Buddy Guy, Cyndi Lauper, and Mavis Staples.
We first heard of the Portland, OR native in 2006, when the excellent Spanish label Ayva Records issued Junjo, her debut album. On Junjo, Spalding led a Cuban trio through a tasteful Latin-tinged set that earned accolades from the New York Times. At the time, she was a 21-year-old professor at Berklee College of Music, where she had graduated the prior year.
Since then, she has issued two Universal-distributed albums that charted on Billboard‘s Top 10 “Jazz Albums;” received glowing profiles in People, USA Today, and The New Yorker; and performed at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, at President Obama’s invitation. She has also worked with a dizzying list of collaborators, from Stevie Wonder to Prince to Q-Tip to Herbie Hancock.
Oh, and did we mention she has awesome hair?