Bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding has taken the jazz world by storm with her talent and youthful enthusiasm. That's not a bad thing. A smattering of White House jazz gigs and performing at President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize concert were a help.
So, too, will be her high profile at the 53rd annual GRAMMY Awards in L.A. on February 13.
Spalding will perform on the show, and will co-host the Pre-Telecast Ceremony with singer Bobby McFerrin.
Spalding also is one of five nominees for Best New Artist. The other nominees in that category are Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & the Machine, and Mumford and Sons. Spalding is the first jazz artist to receive a GRAMMY nomination for the Best New Artist mainstream category in 35 years. Whether or not she wins, the attention may take some of the edge off the current Bieber Fever sweeping America. That would be terrific.
It seems ironic that Spalding is up for Best New Artist, but was not nominated for any of her recordings. But hey, we're talking the GRAMMYS. There's always something unfathomable there when it involves jazz.
In GRAMMY-speak, Best New Artist refers when an artist first came to widespread attention. No matter than Spalding's 2008 debut CD, Esperanza, spent more than 70 weeks on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and was the most successful internationally selling debut that year. Last month, her current release Chamber Music Society hit No. 1 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.