Hailed as a prodigy on the acoustic double bass within months of first touching the instrument as a 15-year-old, Esperanza Spalding has emerged as a fine jazz bassist, but has also distinguished herself playing blues, funk, hip-hop, pop fusion, and Brazilian and Afro-Cuban styles as well. Born in Portland, OR in 1984, Spalding was not well served by the public school system and soon dropped out of classes to be home schooled. Returning to the public school system at 15, she encountered her first acoustic bass (she had already been playing violin for several years) and immediately took to the instrument. Dropping out of school again, Spalding enrolled in classes at Portland State University as a 16-year-old, and earned her B.A. in just three years and was immediately hired as an instructor in the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston in the spring of 2005. After touring and playing with a whole host of artists, including Joe Lovano, Patti Austin, Michel Camilo, Charlie Haden, Regina Carter, Pat Metheny, Dave Samuels, and a host of others, in addition to heading her own jazz trio, Spalding recorded and released Junjo on the Barcelona-based AYVA imprint in 2006, following it with the simply named Esperanza on Heads Up Records in 2008. ~ Steve Leggett, All Music Guide Born in 1984, bassist, singer and composer Esperanza Spalding began playing in small jazz and blues venues around her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Soon after picking up the acoustic bass at the late age of 14, she helped form Noise for Pretend, an eclectic band fusing jazz and pop for which she sang and played bass (often simultaneously). The group signed with indie rock imprint Hush Records, which released two albums of their original compositions.
Spalding continued to branch out, playing with jazz groups as well as leading her own septet and trio. In 2002 she joined the hip-hop group Black Science Tribe, which gained a sizable following touring along the West Coast.
Since moving East to attend the Berklee College of Music, Ms. Spalding has regularly worked as a freelance bassist and singer, both locally and internationally. Ms. Spalding has worked with many notable Grammy-winning artists such as pianist Michel Camilo, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, saxophonist Joe Lovano, violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Pat Metheny, and singer Patti Austin.
She has also performed as a member of the Boston Pops, with drummers Bill Stewart (John Scofield, Chris Potter, Joe Lovano), Terri-Lyne Carrington (Herbie Hancock), Mark Walker (Paquito D’Rivera), as well as guitarist Adam Rogers (Michael Brecker, Chris Potter), saxophonist Seamus Blake (Mingus Big Band, Bloomdaddies), and trumpeter Byron Stripling and performed as an opening act for comedian and sometimes-jazz drummer/vocalist Bill Cosby.
Recently, Ms. Spalding released her debut album as a leader, Junjo on the Barcelona based jazz label Ayva Music. Her CD features pianist Aruan Ortiz, and drummer Francisco Mela.
She is the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship. Spalding holds a B.M. from Berklee College of Music, where she also enjoys the status as the youngest faculty member ever in the history of the College. Esperanza recently became a new artist represented by the Montuno management agency.
In 2009 she played at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo(Norway), as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, artist of choice.
In 2011 she was awarded the Grammy for best new artist, the only Jazz musician to be awarded the Grammy.