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Previous story Esperanza Spalding from Portland wins Best New Artist at Grammy Awards Next story

Story by Aubra Salt - The Oregon Herald
Published on Monday February 14, 2011 - 1:53 AM
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At the Grammy's, Portland's own young beauty, 26-year old Esperanza Spalding was named best new artist, beating out Justin Beieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons, and Florence + The Machine.

Her latest album, Chamber Music Society, sold 31,000 copies but could now climb to Gold.

Backstage, Usher diplomatically answered questions about Esperanza. And Bieber, who jumped atop Usher's back as he spoke to media reps backstage, said, "I'm happy for her. I had a great night! I got to perform with my mentor." And Usher said, "Spoken like a true professional."

The win for Esperanza Spalding should not surprise anyone here or even in Washington. She recently went on tour with Prince, and has a friend in the white house, namely President Barack Obama. The White House invited her to play there last year, introducing her as "the brightest young star on the jazz horizon."

She was excited and nearly overwhelmed at the Grammy's when she met some of the best known music artists, those she had only seen on TV or heard on the radio. "They have a magnetism," she said. "You can feel their presence from a few feet away. It was nice to see them face to face on a human level. I liked that a lot."

Spalding says she tried a good number of musical instruments before deciding on the Upright Bass, making it her own. In fact, she recently published a new album showcasing her ability to combine jazz and classical styles.

Esperanza Spalding was a teen rocket bursting with energy and extreme talent. She had always been vastly different from her peers; she had an obvious penchant for detail, willing, day or night to be launched into the stratosphere of top-dog international music. Downbeat magazine was one of the first to get wise to her incredible talent, placing her on its cover last year.

Born in Portland in 1984, she and her brother were raised by her single mother in the ghetto-like King neighborhood of Northeast Portland. She says she was motivated to become a musician after watching Yo-Yo Ma on the childrens "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" television program. She was just four at the time.