Obama's Dame

This is America. We don’t go around handing out sirs or knighting people. The closest we come to having pop royalty is when the president handpicks an artist to play a special event. Last year, Obama chose jazz vocalist and bassist Esperanza Spalding to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. It’s not just her musical prowess that’s impressive; it’s her multi-racial, up-by-the-bootstraps story. Lithe and afro-coifed Spalding is from a “rough part” of Portland, Oregon. With an ethnic background that boasts African-American, Spanish, Native American, and Welsh cultures, she sings her scat-filled jazz ballads in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Her music straddles genres as well as cultures. After leaving high school, Spalding fronted the indie band Noise For Pretend before pursuing jazz at the Berklee College of Music, where she became the youngest faculty member ever at 20. She released jazz albums Junjo in 2006 and Esperanza in 2008. In addition to being “knighted” by Obama, late night curmudgeon David Letterman called Spalding the coolest person he’s ever had on his show. She brings her upright bass and soulful chops to the Colony Theatre.
Fri., April 16, 8 p.m., 2010
 
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