Esperanza Spalding Performs at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, Concert

Among a host of other world-renowned musicians, 25-year-old jazz sensation Esperanza Spalding will perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway today. Spalding is a bassist and vocalist from Portland, Ore. and considered a prodigy in the jazz world.

The two-hour event, hosted by Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, will be shown live today at 1 p.m. on CNN. The show will begin at 8 p.m. local time in Oslo.

Spalding will join fellow American artists Toby Keith, Wyclef Jean and Donna Summer at the concert. The group is rounded out with British singer Natasha Bedingfield, Irish pop group Westlife, Norweigen vocalist and violinist Alexander Rybak, Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, Amadou & Mariam from Mali, and Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

The concert follows a ceremony yesterday where President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. (Spalding also performed at the Nobel ceremony, following President Obama’s acceptance speech.) Obama is not scheduled to attend today’s concert.

Spalding has released two solo albums and a handful of collaborative disks, and has worked with jazz musicians such as saxophonist Joe Lovano, vibraphonist Dave Samuels and bassist Stanley Clarke.

Spalding taught herself how to play the violin when she was four years old, after watching classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on the children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

“That was when I realized that I wanted to do something musical,” Spalding said on her Web site. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit.”

The young musician from a multi-lingual home played violin for the next 10 years in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, which consists of both children and adults. At age 15 she switched to the bass because it opened up “non-classical avenues” for her to travel, such as blues, hip-hop and funk.

When she was 16, Spalding enrolled in the music program at Portland State University. At 20 she was an instructor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and set the bar for the youngest faculty member in the prestigious school’s history. Spalding was also the 2005 recipient of the Boston Jazz Society Scholarship for outstanding musicianship.

Originally Published