Wiki: Esperanza Spalding (born October 18, 1984 in Portland, Oregon) is an American multi-instrumentalist best known as a jazz bassist and singer, who draws upon many genres in her own compositions. Spalding grew up in the King neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, a neighborhood she describes as “ghetto” and “pretty scary”. Her mother, who raised her and her brother as a single parent, was an independent, industrious woman.
Spalding is of African-American, Welsh and Spanish descent, and describes this as a diverse ethnic heritage that includes “Welsh, Hispanic, and Native American roots in addition to the unidentified roots from Africa”. Her black roots come from her father: “My mom is Welsh, Hispanic, and Native American, and my father is black.” Her Hispanic roots trace through her mother, a native of Southern California, who indirectly educated Spalding in Spanish by hiring a Cuban nanny. Spalding notes that these influences, along with many other factors in her life, have come together to shape her into who she is. She also has an interest in other cultures, including Brazil, and respects the artistry inherent in language, commenting specifically, “With Portuguese songs the phrasing of the melody is intrinsically linked with the language, and it’s beautiful”.
Her mother shares Spalding’s interest in music, having nearly become a touring singer herself. But while Spalding cites her mother as a powerful influence who encouraged her musical expansion, she attributes her inspiration for pursuing a life in music to watching classical cellist Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when she was four.
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