Need to Meet - Marie Claire


When she beat out Justin Bieber at this year's Grammys, his fans angrily tweeted up a storm. Esperanza just kept jamming.

By Abigail Pesta

She grew up in a gang-ridden corner of Portland, Oregon, with a single mother who worked several jobs. After a stray bullet flew into a neighbor's home and killed a child, she started sleeping on the floor. Then Mister Rogers came to the rescue: One day on his show, cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma performed - and Esperanza Spalding was inspired. Her mother enrolled her daughter, then 5 years old, in a free community-band program, and Esperanza tackled the oboe, the clarinet, the violin. By age 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, while performing as a bassist and singer in bands around town. By 25, she had released three albums. This year, at 26, she became the first solo jazz musician ever to win the Grammy for Best New Artist. She took a break from her tour of Africa and Europe to talk about what's next.

Click here to read more: Quotes from Grammy Winner Esperanza Spalding - Esperanza Spalding Interview - Marie Claire

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