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Artist Spotlight: Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding is a jazz/neo-soul/rock bassist, singer, and performer. She is also a Dominican Afro-Latina. In jazz, it is very uncommon to find women playing bass due to the sheer size of the instrument, which is typically seen by the jazz community as unfit for smaller hands and body types. Esperanza however, is one of the best bassists in jazz today, and has been consistently impressive in her natural ability to play music (e.g, she taught herself how to play the violin and then played in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at the age of 5). Her debut album from 2008, Esperanza, is a bilingual fusion of Dominican and jazz rhythms. In 2013, she won the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy for her album Radio Music Society. Her newest album from 2016, Emily’s D+evolution, is a neo-soul progressive rock creation and a continuation of her ever-changing style and of course, a showcase of her music capabilities. Esperanza performs Emily’s D+evolution live and accompanied with an artistic portrayal of her own self-discovery through visual and performance art. These days, Spalding is pretty well known but the need to listen to her has never diminished! Esperanza emphasizes her desire to be respected for her musicianship and artistry rather than her race, gender, or sexual orientation in many interviews. I hope I respected her wishes in this Artist Spotlight by emphasizing the importance of supporting artists whose identities are typically marginalized in the music industry.

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