Grammys’ Surprise Winner: Who Is Esperanza Spalding?
First Published: February 14, 2011 12:27 AM EST Credit: WireImage
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy win for Best New Artist was one of the biggest surprises of the night, but while she upset the likes of Drake, Florence + The Machine and Justin Bieber, the pretty jazz singer isn’t worried The Biebs’ career is going to now take a slide.
“He’s gonna have many more years and many more nominations so I think he’ll be great,” Esperanza told reporters backstage at the big event of the teen Canadian singing phenom.
Esperanza beat out stiff competition from her fellow nominees — which also included Mumford and Sons, rounding out the category — for the prize, and she admitted that when her name was called by presenters Jewel and John Legend, her mind went blank.
“I don’t know [what went through my head],” she said. “I really wasn’t expecting that at all. I looked at my brother and said, ‘Really?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, Go!’”
The beautiful singer, who counts Stevie Wonder as one of her major inspirations, said she hopes her win – the first time a jazz artist ever took Best New Artist at the Grammys – would help turn more people on to her type of tunes.
“Hopefully people will realize there’s stuff going on in the jazz world they didn’t know about,” she said. “If they want to put their sights on the jazz world and discover more people — that would be great.”
While her win meant a lot, Esperanza, who thanked her teachers on stage, said it was performing with the Grammy Camp Jazz Ensembles, following an introduction by “Glee’s” Matthew Morrison, that she was buzzing about the most.
“[The] most beautiful [moment] of the whole night was when eight high school students that have practiced for hours and hours and hours and hours got to play on stage in front of millions of people,” she said, adding that she hopes it sends a message that music matters in schools and to young people.
“That’s the direction I’m coming from, I’m really an advocate of that message,” she added.
Esperanza has her dance card full for the next couple of months with touring, however, she would like to collaborate with a few people if the opportunity came her way – including one of her fellow Grammy attendees.
“Cee Lo really reminded me how much I love him tonight. That would be a dream some day,” she said of the possibility of laying down a tune with the “F*** You” singer.
The surprise winner on Grammy night also received an extra special congratulations — from the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
“Congrats to Esperanza Spalding for winning the Grammy for best new artist tonight,” a post on The White House’s official Facebook page noted on Sunday night.
Esperanza first made waves with a moving performance of “Tell Him” during the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word in May 2009.
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