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Monday, February 14, 2011

Esperanza Spalding versus Justin Bieber

Posted By on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Bieber Nation, or some of the snottiest and most outraged of Canadian teen-pop idol Justin Bieber's fans, didn't take Esperanza Spalding's winning the Best New Artist Grammy with much grace or maturity. But perhaps that makes sense. They're just kids. Many set upon Spalding's Wikipedia page to express their outrage (since edited and cleaned up). Perhaps they should have attacked the Grammy's Wiki page, since Spalding didn't give herself the award. But someday they'll grow up, and probably stop listing to glittery teen pop.

Many have asked whether Spalding should get an award for being "new," and that's a good question. She's not well known in popular music, but in jazz circles, she's very well established as a relatively young artist. Born in 1984, she put out her first album in 2005, at the age of 21. Her 2008 release Esperanza spent 70 weeks on the Billboard jazz charts. She performed in the jazz tent at Jazz Fest in 2009, and the show was excellent. She's amazingly talented with the upright bass, she has a beautiful voice and a worldly repertoire. If nothing else, it seems that the award is going to a deserving "artist" even if she's not the newest or best known nominee to emerge. And most of the nominees are not particularly new.

Locals may notice that two nominess just played Voodoo in 2010 (Florence and The Machine, Drake) and the remaining nominee, Mumford and Sons, will be coming to Jazz Fest on Friday, April 29. That's good news for fans of live music. Local Bieber fans will have to settle for seeing him on YouTube.

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