Bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding has been a household name in the jazz world for a few years now, ever since she burst onto the scene with her 2011 Grammy win for Best New Artist over contenders such as Mumford and Sons, Drake, and (most infamously) Justin Bieber.
She was the first jazz musician to win this award—and upon being exposed to her artistry it is no surprise as to why she won. Esperanza has truly developed herself in service to her art. She is not only a formidable bassist, but also a nimble and poetic singer, as well as a visionary style icon who is constantly seeking new ways to express her unique voice.
Esperanza was raised in Portland, where an early aptitude for music sparked by seeing Yo-Yo Ma perform on Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood sparked an interest in the bass in her mid-teens. By age 17, she was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and by age 20, she was an instructor at Berklee as well as a sideman to jazz luminaries such as Joe Lovano and Wayne Shorter.
Her meteoric rise from this point has resulted in four albums with markedly different vibes—the most recent being Chamber Music Society (an intimate ensemble featuring strings) and Radio Music Society (a more upbeat album heavily influenced by pop and soul). Esperanza’s 2015 Winnipeg Jazz Fest appearance will introduce her latest project, Emily’s D+Evolution.