Person of the Week: Esperanza Spalding, Finding Her Voice Through Jazz


Her talent so impressive, after auditioning for the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Spalding was offered a scholarship on the spot. She went on to become a faculty member there -- at the age of 20, the youngest ever in the history of the school, all the while performing those deep, soulful tunes on her bass and making a name for herself in jazz circles.

Her Next Stage

Spalding graduated to bigger stages: she was President Obama's choice to play at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and has been invited to perform at the White House several times, most recently at the Medal of Freedom ceremony. But it was her first performance at the White House, with some famous faces in the audience, that struck her most.

When Stevie Wonder received the Gershwin Prize, Spalding performed his "Overjoyed." "It was nerve-racking, not only because the president, the first lady, and the vice president were sitting there, but because Paul Simon was over there, Stevie Wonder was over there, Herbie Hancock was right over there -- I just felt overwhelmed with awe at my musical heroes all just sitting in the same row in front of me," she said.

But she wowed them, won them over, and hopes to do the same to a new generation of music lovers.

"I'm going to keep doing this music as long as I can, as long as I'm alive," she said.

And what about Justin Bieber? The two met backstage at the Grammys, where they complimented each other's hair and shared what they had in common: a strong support system from two very proud mothers.

While the Bieb was happy for Spalding after her win, what about his outraged fans who have lashed out against the jazz queen for stealing their heartthrob's stage?

"You never know, some of those Bieber fans in a few years might discover they like jazz, they like the bass, and they like my singing," she said. "And if they don't, God bless them and I'm going to keep doing it anyway."

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