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Rising jazz star Esperanza Spalding visits Oklahoma
Esperanza Spalding, one of jazz's fastest rising stars, is enjoying her first visit to Oklahoma.
She jogged the streets of Bartlesville and spent time in Johnstone Park. She likes the “sweet” vibe of the town and said she feels honored to be invited to perform at the OK Mozart International Festival in Bartlesville. She already has played two shows and will wrap up her time at the festival at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City.
“I was excited about the diversity of the crowd that came down to the first two shows,” Spalding said. “They were very attentive and enthusiastic and I loved to see the diversity of ages.”
The festival marks the first Oklahoma performance for the jazz bassist and vocalist.
Spalding gained national attention when she came out of nowhere to be the first jazz artist to win the Grammy award for “Best New Artist” at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011. She beat fellow nominees Justin Bieber, Florence and the Machine, Drake and Mumford and Sons.
But she will be the first to tell you winning the Grammy isn't nearly as great honor as the acknowledgment of being nominated.
“I think it's sort of unfair that only one person theoretically gets an award. ... I was just mainly excited about the nomination,” she said. “It's not the Olympics. It's so hard to put a competitive edge into music because it's so subjective.”
Spalding has barely had a break since last year's Grammy win. She focused her energy on getting a new album out to her fans. Her latest album, “Radio Music Society,” has been a long time coming.
“Over the years, I'm always working on pieces here and there and trying to get them as close to being done as possible and performing them and experimenting and refining,” she said.
It's a process. She claims to be more of a writer than a performer. Her latest work is a companion piece to her preceding album, “Chamber Music Society.”
The premise for the album, Spalding said, is to deliver jazz to people who don't get the opportunity to discover it.
“It's playing what I want to play, but asking the question on every song: ‘Well, what can I do without sacrificing the important elements to us to make this music go out further?'” she said.