KPLU Studio Sessions
3:44 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

Who is Esperanza Spalding?

Esperanza Spalding walked into the KPLU Seattle studios like some teenaged gunslinger. However, she’d been working full time in music for most of her 25 years, and her chosen weapon was a double-bass that reached just above her impressive afro.

Now a Grammy Award winner for Best New Artist (take that, Justin Bieber!), I’ve recently enjoyed listening back to our meeting a year ago, and specifically our interview.

In high school, Esperanza says she had the chance to play with a fantastic group of veteran blues & jazz men in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She calls them an “extended family” that she hadn’t met yet, and she felt welcomed into the musical tradition almost immediately.

As she said, “bass players are always workin’”. I was struck at her passion for musical studies, and her deep love for her new found family.

Esperanza’s acceptance speech at the Grammys was appropriately appreciative – thanking her friends back home, and expressing her sincere appreciation for the honor.

Who’d have guessed a 20-something jazz bassist/singer would be the Best New Artist of the year? The answer: Everyone who heard that KPLU performance just over a year ago.

You can head down to Portland to see Esperanza playing at her hometown’s jazz festival on February 25 - www.pdxjazz.com.

You can check out pictures and video below of the performance.