In 2011, at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards, the promising 27 year-old bassist, composer and vocalist Esperanza Spalding became the first jazz artist to win “Best New Artist of the Year.” Shouts of pure pride and joy emanated from the jazz ranks, a community which generally pays little mind to the glitz and glamour of the Grammys. For me, the sight of Justin Bieber preparing to accept his award, then hearing the winning name of Esperanza Spalding, brought the feeling of a new day. All things really are possible.
I caught up with Es (her nickname) backstage at the Allen Room in Lincoln Center where Es was preparing to go on stage with two of my oldest friends, Joe Lovano and Judi Silvano. Es would be playing bass and singing in Joey’s “Us Five” Cross Cultural Group. Esperanza was kind enough to make time for a quick interview. I hope I’ll have another opportunity to chat with her again. I came away feeling the future of creative music is secure with a warm and thoughtful female musician like Esperanza leading the way.