Spalding’s journey as a solo artist began with the May 2008 release of Esperanza, her debut recording for Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, which went on to become the best selling album by a new jazz artist internationally in 2008. The highly acclaimed release was the first opportunity for a worldwide audience to witness her mesmerizing talents as an instrumentalist, vocalist and composer. The New York Times raved, “Esperanza has got a lot: accomplished jazz improvisation, funk, scat singing, Brazilian vernacular rhythm and vocals in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
At its center is a female bassist, singer and bandleader, one whose talent is beyond question.” Soon after release, Esperanza went straight to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart where it remained for over 70 weeks. Spalding was booked on the Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the CBS Saturday Early Show, the Tavis Smiley Show, Austin City Limits and National Public Radio. Other highlights included two appearances at the White House, a Banana Republic ad campaign, the Jazz Journalists Association’s 2009 Jazz Award for Up and Coming Artist of the Year, the 2009 JazzWeek Award for Record of the Year, and many high profile tour dates, including Central Park SummerStage in New York and the Newport Jazz Festival. 2009 was capped by an invitation from President Obama to perform at both the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Oslo, Norway – where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded – and also at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
On Februrary 13th 2011 in Los Angeles, Esperanza received one of the music industry’s most prestigious prizes, the Grammy for Best New Artist. As Esperanza later said, she was surprised and also grateful to receive this award. It had been a very special day, as earlier on Esperanza has cohosted the pre-telecast with Bobby McFerrin and also performed with the Grammy Jazz Ensemble. Since then she has went on to win 5 additional Grammys.