July 24, 2017: We are pleased to report that Esperanza Spalding has joined the faculty of the Department of Music at Harvard University as Professor of the Practice, with an appointment beginning July 2017. Spalding will teach a range of courses in songwriting, arranging, improvisation and performance, while also bringing her commitment to music as a voice for social justice.
Four-time Grammy award-winner, jazz bassist, singer-songwriter, lyricist, humanitarian activist, and educator, Spalding has five acclaimed solo albums and numerous music videos to her name. She is recognized internationally for her virtuosic singing and bass playing, her impassioned improvisatory performances, her singular artistic vision drawing from a dazzling stylistic range, and her brilliant creative capacities as both a composer and lyricist. Spalding’s artistic practice involves a unique synthesis of elements and aesthetics from jazz, fusion, rock, funk, soul, R&B (rhythm and blues), and Brazilian musical traditions, as well as theatrical elements and lyrical storytelling. She is a creative artist and performer simultaneously, and she stands apart for the intelligence and deep sense of humanity that infuses her creative endeavors. Perhaps her most iconic performances are those for which she was the laureate-invited singer and bassist at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and subsequent concert, when President Barack Obama won the Peace Prize in 2009—an invitation that testifies to her status as a national treasure with global resonance.
In addition to her Grammys, she has been the recipient of such other prestigious awards as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist, Boston Music Award for Jazz Artist of the Year, Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for the Performing Arts, Soul Train Music Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist/Group, Frida Kahlo Award for Innovative Creativity, and ASCAP Foundation Jazz Vanguard Award. As a passionate educator, she taught bass in private lessons, ensembles and classes at Berklee College of Music from 2005–2008 immediately on the heels of graduating from there with a Bachelor of Music. Since then, she has been in high demand as an Artist in Residence and Masterclass leader, including teaching at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada.