What To Watch For in 2012: Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding is scheduled to release her fourth album on March 20th, titled “Radio Music Society.”  The album will include a DVD featuring conceptual music videos for its 12 tracks.  It is sort of like a sequel, or companion, to her 2010 album “The Chamber Music Society”, which earned her a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

“Originally, I thought it would be fun to release a double album…One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a  second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize as ‘pop songs.’  Those are the two things that really interest me, and it intrigues me to think about different presentation approaches while writing each kind of song.” – Esperanza Spalding

One of my current inspirations, Esperanza Spalding, is a phenomenal singer, songwriter, composer, and instrumentalist.  Her primary genre is jazz, but she also fuses bossa nova and neo soul and countless other genres.  Her voice is so fluid – and she can sing in Spanish and Portuguese!

Spalding was born in Portland, Oregon in 1984.  Her mother is Welsh, Hispanic, and Native American and her father is black.  She discovered the bass at age 14 when she attended The Northwest Academy, a prestigious performing arts high school.  The school was not a good fit for her and she later dropped out noting that high school was “easy and boring.”  She says that for her discovering the bass was like “waking up one day and realizing you’re in love with a co-worker.”  Spalding completed her GED at age 16 and enrolled with a music scholarship in Portland State University.  She later applied and auditioned to Berklee College of Music and received a full scholarship.  In 2005 she received the Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship.  After graduating from college, she was hired by Berklee College of Music, becoming one of the youngest professors in the institution’s history (age 20).

I’m really excited about her upcoming album.  The way she fuses genres and yet still remains true to the art form is amazing.  Perhaps she is the beginning of another jazz era.  Below is a performance she did in 2009 in Austin, Texas.  Enjoy.

– Dagny

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