#WCW: Esperanza Spalding

Multiple Grammy wins, charitable contributions, White House performances, and highlighting the importance of women’s rights, Esperanza Spalding is making change both within and out of the music community.


How did you hear about Esperanza?

When I first delved into the world of jazz, I was pretty overwhelmed. There was so much talent to be mesmerized by. As a lost middle school jazz student, my teacher would recommend me artists to gain exposure to the genre. When he recommended Esperanza’s music, I thought nothing of it. However, listening to her work for the first time, struck a unique chord in me. After years of being the lone girl in jazz band, discovering a female artist who wasn’t only successful but also ridiculously talented, meant everything.


What’s so amazing about her?

Well let me start by saying go listen to “Chamber Music Society,” on repeat. That album alone could answer this question, but still I will continue. Her abilities within the realm of jazz performance are unlike anything else, especially when it comes to bossa nova. What I love most about her playing is she brings a true personality and voice into her art. She also revived an often forgotten genre of music and brought it back into popular culture. Beating out huge acts, including Drake, Florence and the Machine, Mumford & Sons, and the overly-obsessed Justin Bieber for the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist, her win and talent got people talking about jazz.


In a world densely packed with male and non-jazz artists, Esparanza’s ability to carve her way through to the spotlight is as refreshing as it is inspiring.

Hayley Voss