EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Who Is Esperanza Spalding’s Idol?

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What do fans not know about Esperanza Spalding? “You don’t know anything about me,” she said. Jokingly. Experiencing the 28-year-old jazz singing multi-instrumentalist live is a real treat of an explosion of sounds composed to make the perfect ensemble. Her set at Austin City Limits was one of the best of the weekend making this writer somewhat a believer in the beauty of jazz. Considering last year’s New York Times profile on the talented musician, she is still very mysterious. It’s hard to get a sense of who she is from chatting with her. But one does get that she’s candid, and certain of herself.

“I don’t know how it feels to be anything else but me. I’ve never been something else that I remember in this lifetime,” she said when asked about being a woman in a male dominated genre. “I just blaze ahead, focused on what I’m focused on.” That quote about sums up her vibe. Confident in her talents, witty and honest. The same honesty she quipped without hesitation when declaring we, the public, don’t know anything about her. We’re willing to bet she was only half joking. But opting for the more PC answer she changes her response, “What people may not know about me is no matter what happens I’ll keep doing music ’cause my idol is Wayne Shorter.” Shorter is widely considered jazz’s greatest living composer. “So even if no one ever hears my name again, I’ll be somewhere making music that’s meaningful to me anyway.” She is her music and her music drives her life. Not a thing wrong with that.

Esperanza's Idol