February 14th, 2011
04:35 PM ET
The critical affection for this year's recipient of the best new artist Grammy has been steadily growing for a few years now, but you wouldn't have known judging by the amount of people searching for info about Esperanza Spalding last night.
The reaction of "who?" was nearly instantaneous across the Web on Sunday as Spalding snagged the Grammy away from Justin Bieber and Drake, two artists that you couldn't be unaware of if you tried. Florence + the Machine and Mumford and Sons were also up for the award.
The 26-year-old bassist, singer and composer from Portland, Oregon has showcased her musical style at the White House; turned in a show at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in 2009; sang a tribute to Prince at the BET Awards last summer; and has appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman."
Although she's known for her skill with the bass, her first instrument was the violin. She told Oprah Winfrey's magazine "O" that she got into music at age 4, after seeing renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and she spent 10 years with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, becoming concertmaster at 15.
When the Berklee School of Music offered Spalding a full scholarship, she headed to Boston, and after completing her studies early was hired on as faculty at the age of 20. That year, according to the New Yorker, she wrote and recorded her album "Junjo."
By 23, she was being hailed as the artist to watchwith the release of 2008's "Esperanza," an album that NPR credits for blending "her soaring vocals and her deep bass lines."
Her most recent release is "Chamber Music Society," an album the Washington Post describes as being "as lively as it is original."
Of her sound, Spalding recently told Billboard, "I don't want to be pigeonholed...My job is to do justice to the music that's speaking through me."
Take a listen with the clip below:
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