|Photo by Alessandra Freguja. Obtained via Wikimedia under a Creative Commons License.|
Esperanza Spalding deserved the Grammy for Best New Artist. I don't care if the masses never heard of her--those in the know, including yours truly and no less than the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., have been aware of her talent for quite a while. Although only 26, she's been steeped in her art since she was five.
She's classically trained. Her way with the bass made her a jazz prodigy, and she began teaching students at the Berklee College of Music at the age of 20. I wonder when was the last time we had a Best New Artist winner that actually knew anything about composing their own music...
She's technically not a "new artist," as 2010's Chamber Music Society is actually her third album, and she's appeared on a number of other artists' productions. For those looking to explore her sound, a good starting place is her excellent 2008 album, Esperanza.
To the numerous media personalities who couldn't seem to get her name right, it's pronounced es-per-ahn-za (hope in Spanish). Let's all hope they stop saying "Well, I never heard of her..." and start giving her the respect she is truly due.