Who said there are no talented female bassists who have all it takes to compete and even play better than their male counterparts? Beautiful Esperanza Spalding is a fantastic bassist who has carved out a niche for herself as the first jazz artist to win the Best New Artist Award at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
Perhaps influenced by her mother’s love for jazz guitar, Esperanza’s interest in musical instruments began at age 5, when she would follow her mother to college to learn jazz bass.
With over fifteen years of experience in jazz bass performance and teaching, the American superstar has walked home with four Grammy awards and is currently a Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ever come across Spalding’s band? Next time you do, watch out for the bass queen. And if you think she is overrated, we have a lot to tell you about her. Let’s get to meet the much-loved jazz bassist.
Biography of Esperanza Spalding
The professional bassist was born Esperanza Emily Spalding on October 18, 1984, to an African-American father and a mother who is of Native American, Hispanic, and Welsh ancestry.
Born in Portland, Oregon, in the United States, the bassist was raised in a multi-lingual household in the King, Alberta with her brother. Growing up in a single-parent household was really not easy for Spalding and her brother but the siblings were able to hold on to the moral standards they were raised with even in the face of their ugly economic circumstances.
The veteran bassist spent much of her elementary school period at home as she was stricken repeatedly by illness. When she was done with homeschooling, she went on to obtain her GED (at the age of 16) and later enrolled at Portland State University on a scholarship to study music, becoming the youngest student in the institution.
Upon completion of her studies in the university, she took to Berklee College of Music in Boston to sharpen her musical skills.
Esperanza Spalding’s Husband
Esperanza could possibly be single as there’s no information on her love life and past relationships. Since there’s no available information on this area of her life, we’ll assume she is single and not a wife or mother to any man or children.
Quick Facts about the Musician
1. She is also a multi-lingual vocalist
Blessed with a unique performance style and highly distinctive voice, Spalding sings in three languages – Portuguese, Spanish, and English.
2. Her first musical instrument was a violin
Spalding started handling the violin at the age of five. Her love for the instrument brought many performance gigs her way, leading to her falling in love with jazz bass, which is today, her primary instrument.
Before channeling her attention fully to bass, she had tried her hands on instruments like oboe, cello, and clarinet. But, in the end, she decided to pick up the bass.
3. She did ‘a million things’ before stardom
Esperanza Spalding did several odd jobs before making it to the top. She did stints in the bakery, foster care homes, food service and even worked as a carpenter and labour organizer with Cesar Chavez. Supposedly influenced by her background and the negative things she saw as a child, Esperanza was able to leave a mark on her previous workplaces.
4. Journey to stardom
As earlier mentioned, the East Coast-based bassist played clarinet and oboe before falling for bass in high school. She was also a member of the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, rising to the position of concertmaster at age 15.
The jazz bassist dropped her critically acclaimed debut album Junjo on April 18, 2006, and later, her second studio album Esperanza in 2008. The albums and other performances earned her the 2011 Grammy Award for the Best New Artist, beating Justin Bieber in the category.
In 2012, Esperanza Spalding came up with the more pop and soul-driven Radio Music Society and also did a performance gig at the Oscars. In 2005, she won the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship and was appointed an instructor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the same year, making her the youngest faculty member in the history of the college.
Emily has also performed at Oslo City Hall in honor of former American president Barack Obama at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies as well as the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which took place on December 11, 2009.
Over the years of her career, Esperanza Spalding is known for regularly making hits on the stage with her bandmates whose names are Otis Brown (drummer), Donald Harrison Jr. (saxophonist), Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez (a drumming sensation), and pianist Leo Genovese.
6. She has worked with notable artists over the years
Absolutely, this comes as no surprise to us considering the rare talent she possesses. Spalding may not be where she has been craving to be but she has come a long way in her career since she joined the music industry.
Some of the prominent and celebrated artists she has worked with include Stanley Clarke (a veteran bassist), Dave Samuels (an American vibraphonist and marimba player), Michael Camilo (a Santo Domingo-born Grammy award-winning pianist and bandleader), Patti Austin (a veteran American pop, R&B, and jazz singer) and jazz saxophonists Joe Lovano and Donald Harrison.
7. Her fashion sense
Esperanza Spalding does not only have a unique music style but also a notable fashion sense that makes her wear stuff like a headscarf, headband, bold necklace, and heels most of the time.
While many people consider her a bit boyish due to her love for men’s outfits, the respected female bassist who’s naturally beautiful looks more like an angel each time she steps on the stage.