Grammy winner Spalding earns praise—and persecution
Justin Bieber fans upset
Consider Esperanza Spalding, the hot, new bassist-vocalist-composer who walked away from the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremonies with the Best New Artist award, outpointing Drake, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber in the process.
Her victory created a firestorm of protest.
In addition to phenomenal bass playing, Esperanza sings deftly in three languages—English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Of her Grammy win, the 26-year-old Spalding said via a note on her website: “I can hardly express what a surprise and a thrill it was Sunday night to receive my first Grammy. In the category of Best New Artist no less. I was and am totally surprised.”
Spalding was born and raised in Portland, Ore., on what she called “the other side of the tracks,” and raised by a single parent. When she saw cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on the PBS children’s television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child of 4, she knew then what she wanted to do. Within a year she had taught herself to play violin well enough to join the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, her Facebook page states, becoming its concertmaster by age 15.
Around that time she discovered the bass and “all of the non-classical avenues the instrument could open for her.” In 2005, at age 20, she became an instructor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, the youngest faculty member in the history of the college.
Bieber, the 16-year-old singing sensation from Stratford, Ontario, Canada, who began singing in 2007, received two Grammy nominations. Bieber used the Internet to share his performances with loved ones. Predictably, the YouTube clips went viral. He is also “a self-taught musician who plays drums [since the age of 2], guitar, piano, and trumpet.” His association with Usher after a chance meeting in an Atlanta studio parking lot led to the current partnership.
During an interview with Conan O’Brien following the loss, Bieber admitted, “I mean, uh, I’m not gonna lie. It was definitely disappointing.” Never once did he mention Esperanza by name. Neither did O’Brien. O’Brien said that Bieber’s fans got “crazy upset” that he did not win.
Later, on the Chelsea Lately show, he again admitted being disappointed about not winning. In this interview he managed to concede, “she (Spalding) worked hard.” But again, there was no mention of Spalding by name by either Bieber or host Chelsea Handler.
To his credit, Bieber did give Spalding a congratulatory hug backstage at the Grammys, telling her, “I’m happy for you.”
In an MTV interview before he left the backstage press gathering, he told his followers, “Bieber fans, don’t get too upset. Be happy.” But that did nothing to assuage angry Beliebers, as his followers are called.
So consider what else Spalding got for her Grammy win—name-calling, death threats, and hate email.
By late Sunday evening after the awards ceremony, Twitter was ablaze with hate-filled messages and even death threats: “I’m going to murder Esperanza Spalding” - LaurenSBelieber. Another tweet read, “Esperanza Spalding: congrats! You’re the #1 hated best new artist of the year! Go die!” “WATCH OUT ESPERANZA SPALDING…” tweeted ItsLuisaBieber. “BE CAREFUL COS MORE THAN 7 MILLION GIRLS OUTTHERE WANT TO KILL YOU, INCLUDING ME.”
Spalding’s Wikipedia page was hacked, presumably by jilted Bieber fans, and had similar comments inserted into the page: JUSTIN BIEBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO THE HECK ARE YOU ANYWAY?” Another hack read “SHE IS F****** REATARD (sic) THAT NO ONE HAS HEARD OF SO B**** PLEASE DIE!”
All such posts have been deleted and the site locked out from future updates, except by authorized persons.
Steve Stoute is founder and CEO of Translation, a consulting and brand imaging firm that specializes in in-culture advertising. Stoute has worked with rapper Nas, singer Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z. His corporate marketing clients include Samsung, General Motors, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok and Hewlett-Packard. Translation is responsible for McDonald’s highly successful “I’m Lovin’ It” marketing campaign.
Stoute has taken out a full-page ad in this Sunday’s Style section of the New York Times as an open letter to Neil Portnow, president of NARAS, NARAS itself, and the Grammy Awards. In it, he blasts the Grammys, saying that the awards “have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture.”
“[H]ow is it,” Stoute asks, “that Justin Bieber, an artist that defines what it means to be a modern artist, did not win Best New Artist?” Bieber’s “cultural impact and success” are provided as justification as well as YouTube viewership.
Interesting to note that nowhere in the letter does Stoute mention Spalding by name, let alone recognize her contributions to the world of Jazz, and music in general. She, too, is considered the embodiment of a modern artist.
In the pressroom backstage at the Grammys, Spalding was asked how she thinks her victory will affect how people view Jazz.
“Hopefully, people will realize that there are things happening in the Jazz world that they did not know about,” she responded. “There is so much incredible music—evolving, pre-existing—that is rocking all over the word. So if they want to put their sights on the Jazz world and discover more people, that would be great.…”
It would seem the Academy chose to recognize talent over popularity in the category of Best New Artist. Los Angeles Times music critic Ann Powers shares that view. Commenting on the upsets, she said, “I’m trying not to think of what that says about the recording industry, but that’s what [Sunday night] was a commentary on, not popular taste.”
Spalding will be performing Friday at Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus.
Someone asked me last week if I thought American R&B was dead. Record sales have been declining for American artists who categorize themselves as the music genre’s front-runners. In fact, few major mainstream R&B artists, with the exception of Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Usher, are seeing an increase in album sales as their careers expand. For most of the American Soul family, there is a fight to stay relevant, charting and modern enough for our generation.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Eminem and Lady Antebellum each earned five nominations today to lead the pack of hopefuls for the American Music Awards, while Justin Bieber collected four.
The 38th annual AMA ceremony will be held Nov. 21 at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.
Eminem and Bieber, in addition to competing for best male pop/rock artist and pop/rock album, were nominated for artist of the year, along with Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
LOS ANGELES - Lady Gaga picked up eight Moonmen trophies last night at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, including video of the year for “Bad Romance.”
The only other multiple winner was Eminem, who won two awards for “Not Afraid.”
Gaga, known for her outrageous costumes, did not disappoint, accepting the show’s biggest prize for best video wearing a dress, hat and purse that appeared to be made out of cuts of meat.
The 2011 BET awards held Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium was full of fashion, excitement, surprises and most of all entertainment.
Comedian and actor Kevin Hart took it to a whole different level with his charisma and comical personality, and with more than 14 performances, BET provided their guests with more than a few surprises during the show.
At least one performer fell hard for Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards.
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