2012/04/14 23 Comments
Esperanza Spalding! I have made my admiration for this beautiful, talented lady a recurrent theme here on thejazzmonger blog. Now, I am pleased to report that she is the subject of an excellent article in Newsweek and it’s affiliate The Daily Beast.
Abigail Pesta’s piece begins, as most Spalding features do, with the singular nature of her talent and intelligence:
As a 5-year-old, she began playing in a community band; by the time she was 15, she was the concertmaster for an Oregon youth orchestra, with a scholarship to a private arts high school. At 20, she graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Pesta doesn’t mention it, but Spalding was, by age 19, not only a student at Berklee but also on the faculty.
The hard-working credential is well-earned, many times over. Beginning in childhood, she learned to play the piano, clarinet and oboe before discovering the stand-up bass in high school. When asked why she now plays bass, almost exclusively, Esperanza says that the instrument “just resonates” with her.
Pesta goes on to highlight the difficult circumstances in which Spalding lived as a child. She grew up in the King neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Esperanza has described it as “a ghetto” and “pretty scary.” She and her brother were raised by her mother as a single parent. And yet, Pesta tells us:
She downplays her gritty childhood. Growing up poor isn’t a “special” story, she says, but an American one. “Where I’m from is a really mild example. I mean, I’m sure my whole life we were under the poverty line, you know, but I still felt rich. I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”
Listen to that last part again, if you will indulge me, because it is the point of today’s visit to the keyboard:
“I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”