Nearly every jaw in L.A.'s Staples Center dropped on February 13 when little-known jazz singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding, 26, beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons to win the coveted Best New Artist Grammy Award.
I recently caught up with Spalding after the show to get her take on the big win and find out about just what's going on between her and her mentor, Prince.
Here is what didn’t make the last issue of Us:
UsMagazine.com How did it feel beating the stiff competition for Best New Artist?
Esperanza Spalding: I didn't know it was a competition! Music is not a sport where one team or athlete is "better" or has clearly worked harder. All of the nominees are very distinctly different from one another musically, so I don't think the expression "stiff competition" applies to the Grammys. To have such a diverse mix of musicians all nominated in the Best New Artist category was really beautiful and unique in and of itself. How do you compare such vastly different bands? I don't know how the voting works at NARAS, and what exactly the members of the academy are focusing on when they're casting their vote. All I know is that I was not expecting what happened! My cake was already iced by being nominated, and hearing my name called was truly surreal! "Beating" and "competition" are not words that come to mind when I think about being nominated and/or winning a Grammy. But "holy s—" and "really?" and "thank you" do come to mind.
US: Prince is a major supporter and fan. What is he like? What words of advice has he given you?
ES: Prince is a very kind and intelligent person. We hit it off as friends at the same time we started jamming together, so his advice has always been musician to musician as well as from one friend to another. He gives me A LOT of sound advice about navigating through the business side of music, and he's always my critical listener when I have a new musical idea. And that's not even mentioning his musical genius which is of course a continual source of inspiration.
US: How does your music compare to the more poppy stuff that you were up against in your opinion?
ES: Well, I don't know how to answer that question concisely. I guess the best way to answer it would just be to have a listen for yourself.
US: Do you believe or are you scared of the Best new Artist curse?
ES: I don't believe in curses. I'm only scared of not having enough time to practice as much as I need to!
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