And the winner is…Esperanza Spalding?

By Jasmine West

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(MCT)

The most talked about topic at the recent Grammy Awards, besides Lady Gaga in an egg, was the category for Best New Artist. Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine and Esperanza Spalding were all nominated. Everyone watching pretty much knew that it was going to go to Justin Bieber. “And the winner is… ESPERANZA SPALDING.” Wait, who?? Celebs such as outspoken Kanye West were just as shocked at the outcome as the whole Bieber Nation. No disrespect to her talent or her being an artist, but most of us just do not know who Esparanza Spalding is.

Ms. Spalding is a 25 year old vocalist, composer and jazz bassist. She was raised in Portland, Oregon. She heard her musical calling while watching Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood at the young age of 4.

Impressively, she taught herself to play the violin and joined the chamber music society of Oregon. By the age of 15 she earned the title of concertmaster and enrolled into the music program at Portland State University at 16.

Shortly after, she uprooted to the East Coast and enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Within three years, she earned her B.M. At the age of 20, she became an instructor earning her the title of being the youngest faculty member in the history of the college. In 2005, she received the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding music.

It doesn’t stop there. This is only the beginning.

She released her debut album “Esperanza” in May 2008. It became the best selling album by a new jazz artist internationally in the same year. It stayed at the top of the Billboard Charts for over 70 weeks.

Esperanza has been seen everywhere from interviews with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel to performing at the White House and even being invited by President Obama to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

So, I say this..while the media focused all their attention on the overnight pop sensation Justin Bieber, they left out this brilliant jazz musician. Esperanza Spalding is an amazing artist. The decision between Bieber and Spalding may have came down to quality versus popularity.

Jasmine West can be reached at [email protected]