Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding performing at the Cully Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

With gorgeous skin and huge, untammed afro (which we love, love, love), bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is a natural beauty. A product of Welsh, African, Hispanic and Native American descent, Spalding totally rocks her celebrity curls.

Though she has played music since childhood, Spalding’s name (Esperanza is Spanish for “Hope”) was uttered by many new lips when she won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011, making her the first jazz artist to ever win the award. Upsetting The Biebs in this category, whom many considered a shoo-in, many Justin Bieber fans immediately retaliated by taking to her Wiki page and wreaking havoc.

While Spalding hasn't made much ado about the upset, it's possible there was a collective sigh of relief among her fans across the world. Finally, she was receiving the recognition she deserved.

A True Afro Goddess

Spalding, one of our picks for Afro Goddess, was born on October 18, 1984 in Portland, Oregon. At age four, after seeing cellist Yo Yo Ma appear on Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood, Spalding knew that her personal path was music. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit,” says Spalding.

Within a year, Spalding had taught herself violin so well that she became a member of The Chamber Music Society of Oregon, where she remained for ten years until the age of 15.

A Curly Education

Spalding spent much of her elementary school years being home-schooled due to a lengthy illness. Upon attending a traditional school setting, Spalding had difficulty adjusting. Though she was admitted to a prestigious performing arts school, Spalding, a highly intuitive and self-taught learner, promptly became bored and dropped out. All was not lost, however. Originally intending to play cello, Spalding found the bass there - and the bass found her. She loved its "arc" and felt right at home with the massive instrument.

GED in hand, Spalding attended Portland State University at 16 and earned her degree in three quick years. She went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she was made a professor at the young (and previously unheard of) age of 20.

A multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter who sings in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Spalding plays many types of music, including blues, funk, hip-hop, pop fusion, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban. She has performed with many greats, including Stanley Clarke, Joe Lovano, Patti Austin, Michel Camilo, Charlie Haden, Regina Carter, Pat Metheny and Dave Samuels.

Esperanza Spalding has released three CDs to date: Junjo (2005), Esperanza (2008), and Chamber Music Society (2010).

Esperanza is a natural beauty, with her gorgeous skin and huge, untammed afro (which we love, love, love). She has said that she is of Welsh, African, Hispanic and Native American descent.

Curly Hair for Peace?

Prior to her Grammy win in 2011, Spalding's name was also on the lips of many, when President Barack Obama invited her to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert given in his honor as 2009's Nobel Peace Prize winner. She has also performed for President Obama twice at the White House.

I guess there's "Hope" after all. Way to represent the curly love, Esperanza!