Esperanza Spalding


The 26 year old Jazz bassist shocked most of  the universe by winning a Grammy for best new artist two weeks ago – besting the likes of Justin Bieber and Drake and Mumford & Sons. However, she did not shock me (or my other co-workers at Jazz Alley). We love Esperanza! She has performed at Jazz Alley, and treated all of the staff and her band members with such respect. I will always remember the beauty and grace she showed when I met her last year. She was so kind.

Spalding is first rate talent. She grew up in in a single parent household in a tough Portland neighborhood. She earned her GED at 16 and headed off to study music at Portland State University before landing at Berklee!!  She studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, became an instructor there at the age of 20 (what were you doing at the age of 20?), and soon began playing with big named artists, and performed for Barack and Michelle Obama at the White house last year!  She is not exactly a “no-name” as many people have declared. She may simply be, new to you.

Many people who have decided that Esperanza Spalding is a no-name and thought that Justin Bieber, the teen pop sensation should have won the Grammy have also littered Twitter, Facebook, even on Spalding’s Wikipedia page leaving insults and fiercely pro-Bieber comments about how she didn’t deserve the honor.  The disrespect people have shown towards her has been mind boggling. I just cant seem to understand why people would choose to show such bitter disrespect for someone who has worked so hard to get to where she is. Is our culture so obsessed with pop culture that we can’t even recognize any other genres anymore?

I am okay with people idolizing pop culture icons, but what I can’t stand is people deciding that everyone else is worthless, and putting others down, simply to keep their lackluster image of perfection up front and center. I am not denying that Justin Bieber has some skills, and talent however I don’t feel that he should make everyone else fade into obscurity.  Jazz is a beautiful and complex genre, that requires thought and attention. It requires audience participation and brain activity. It may be a little out of peoples comfort zone, as you’re not able to simply tap your foot and shut off your brain, and stare at a cute little teenager.

I am so happy for Esperanza. All of her hard work did not go unnoticed. Thank you to the Grammy’s for recognizing real talent.

Oh, and this pretty much goes with saying. But, her hair is AWESOME.

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