Many of you by now have probably heard about the fabulous Esperanza Spalding. She is best known for 3 things: Her passionate double bass playing, her sultry voice, and her gorgeous afro.
Most people were introduced to Esperanza after she won a Grammy in 2011 for Best New Artist. But, 27 year old Esperanza has been a part of the Jazz scene for many years. In fact, her first album, Junjo was released in 2006.
While the bass may be her first true love, Esperanza had many instrumental flings starting with the violin at age 5, but also including the guitar, oboe and clarinet. She was mostly home-schooled throughout elementary school, managed to finish high-school by age 16, and was immediately accepted into Portland State University on a scholarship. She was later accepted to the Berklee School of Music where she continued her studies and graduated at the age of 20. Upon graduating, Esperanza was hired by Berklee, and became one of the youngest professors in the history of the institution!
Esperanza, who is of African-American, Welsh, Native-American and Hispanic descent, is easily identified by her characteristic large afro. Her mother was adamantly against relaxers, and vowed never to put lye on her child’s scalp. She admits that when she was younger she was often frustrated because of the thickness of her hair. But, she has since then learned how to manage it, using natural products such as a mixture of Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Olive Oil and Tea Tree Oil.
In an interview with Curly Nikki Esperanza proclaims: “Embracing and freely wearing my natural hair is like a form of self- exploration. I’m not White, I’m not European, and my hair is not straight. So I don’t have any desire to make it straight– it doesn’t speak to who I am as a person. I am very mixed and I like that my hair is a reflection of that. My hair is an extension of me, and that’s how it should be.”