When Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist Award at the 2011 Grammys, many music fans hadn't heard of the young jazz bassist who had proved to be a musical savant ever since she picked up a double bass at 15 years-old. As the first jazz artist to ever win the honor, Spalding had already built up a strong following in jazz fusion and neo soul circles and was only just beginning to break into the world of pop music. Spalding found her way to the top of her craft by switching from the violin to the double bass in her teen years and earned her GED when she was 16. After enrolling at Portland State University, Spalding was able to complete a music Bachelor of Arts degree in just three years and was one of the youngest instructors to ever be hired by the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2005.
In addition to teaching and touring with popular blues, jazz and soul artists, Spalding released her first album Junjo in 2006. While the record did not break into the charts, the album helped to get her sound out to the masses and net a recording contract with Heads Up Records. In 2008, she released her self-titled album Esperanza, which would peak at No. 3 on the U.S. jazz charts as well as the Billboard 200 charts.
Spalding increased her profile significantly in 2009 when she was invited to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. President Barack Obama, the Peace Prize winner that year, personally invited Spalding to perform at the gala, and she wowed audiences with her smooth voice and impeccable bass abilities.
In 2010, Spalding released her third album, Chamber Music Society, which would finally hit No.1 on the U.S. Jazz charts and break into the Top 50 of the Billboard 200. The album featured music by Spalding's quartet as well as three notable covers including "Wild is the Wind" and "Inutil Paisagem." The album catapulted her to stardom and helped her upset Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist crown in 2011.
Fresh off the heels of her fourth album Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spalding has become one of the most respected musicians on the American music scene today. Her effortless blend of blues and soul sounds has altered the boundaries of pop music and has finally brought jazz back to the pop charts.