At the age of 15, Esperanza Spalding picked up a bass. She’s never put it down

first_imgEmily, of course, is also Spalding’s middle name.“Ebony and Ivy” was inspired by Craig Steven Wilder’s Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery–setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country. But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.Many of America’s revered colleges and universities–from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC–were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.Spalding is acutely aware of what she owes to jazz history, and to artists like Wayne Shorter, a pioneer of jazz fusion. Here’s her vocal tribute to Shorter at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2018, performing “Endangered Species.”In an earlier tribute to Shorter, Spalding picked up the bass guitar for this 2009 performance of that same composition on Austin City Limits. Which do you prefer?Spalding’s versatility can be seen in cross-genre collaborations—like this one with Grammy Award-winning pianist Robert Glasper.Spalding also engages in social activism offstage. She’s been an ambassador for the Innocence Project since 2018.A lot of Spalding’s music takes on a keen social consciousness.  She dedicated Land of the Free to Innocence Project client Cornelius Dupree, who was exonerated after spending more than 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. (She performed at our 25th Anniversary celebration where she had a chance to meet Cornelius and his wife, Selma.) Spalding also made a video in 2013 titled We Are America about the prison in Guantanamo Bay and performed at the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.It was great to see the birthday wishes for her roll in last month. May she be gifted with many more.I realize, dear readers, that there are many bassists whom I haven’t yet covered in this series. Join me in the comments for some of them, and feel free to post your favorites. And if you have some free time (or extra funds)—help us get Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff elected in Georgia! Never heard of Esperanza Spalding? Here’s a great introduction.The American Academy of Achievement has an extensive biography of Spalding, including several video interviews.Esperanza Spalding was born in Portland, Oregon. Her parents separated when she was very young, and her mother raised Esperanza and her brother on her own in King, a Portland neighborhood that suffered from poverty and violence in the years when Esperanza was growing up. Despite the family’s limited resources, Esperanza’s mother encouraged free thinking and creative expression for her children and exposed them to a variety of cultural influences.Esperanza fell in love with music at age four, after seeing the classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Too small to hold the cello, she took up the violin. After a few violin lessons she was able to practice and study on her own. Her progress on her first instrument was extraordinary. The Portland community provided a number of opportunities for young people to participate in music ensembles and young Esperanza took advantage of them all. At age five she was playing with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon.Over the next ten years, she learned guitar with her mother, taught herself piano, and experimented with the clarinet and oboe. By 15, she was concertmaster (lead violinist) with the Chamber Music Society and ready to pursue her original dream of playing the cello. By chance, she picked up an upright bass instead and fell in love with the giant of the string family. Even larger than the cello, the bass is usually the chosen instrument of tall men with long arms and big hands. At five-foot-six, Esperanza Spalding compensated for her smaller stature with an outsize talent and unrelenting commitment to music. She also took up the electric bass, and began writing songs, singing and leading a band in Portland rock clubs.- Advertisement – Spalding’s affinity with the bass has been on display to jazz fans from the time she released her debut album in 2006, Junjo, as Michael G. Nastos at All Music wrote at the time.The debut recording by acoustic upright bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, a native of Portland, OR, residing in Boston, MA, is an exercise in joy and freedom. Well rendered for such a very young musician, it’s quite notable, considering the certainty of her concept and clarity of her vision. While steeped in contemporary jazz, there are Latin flavors, unabashed free moments, and some implied and direct swing. Further, it is an expression of her well-being, optimism, and future hope for her life in this music. Also in her peer group, pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela add a hundredfold to this music and establish themselves as leaders-to-be, and are quite capable partners for Spalding‘s wonderful sounds. The first piece, a take of the Jimmy Rowles evergreen “The Peacocks,” lets you know something special is going on. Spalding‘s bass leads out with the probing piano of Ortiz as wordless vocals and a modal jam all precede the melody, followed by a free section. The imagination quotient of this interpretation is off the charts.Listen to “The Peacocks” yourself, and you’ll find yourself agreeing with Nastos: There is something special going on.Yet despite becoming a professor at 20, and releasing her first album at 21, Spalding is quick to dismiss those who describe her as a prodigy, for one very clear reason.- Advertisement – xwell, this being over here is deep in study and conjure mode in the quietude self-quarantining.  for those who might be interested, here’s some talkings about spells, music-gift-commodity relations and more…love to all— esperanza spalding (@EspeSpalding) March 22, 2020Spalding is not just an instrumentalist; she is a gifted singer-songwriter as well. Nor is she locked into what people expect to hear from a “jazz artist.” She moves fluidly and freely between musical genres. NPR’s Lara Pellegrinelli wrote an effusive review of Spalding in back in 2018, going so far as to call her a “genius.”A favorite of the Obamas, Spalding performed “Overjoyed” at the White House in tribute to Stevie Wonder in 2009, sparking a relationship between the two artists. Prince invited her to jam, and she played on his BET Lifetime Achievement Award tribute and opened for him on tour in 2011. (When I saw the show, I couldn’t help checking out Questlove seated at the end of my aisle, his head bobbing to Spalding’s “I Know You Know.”) Radio Music Society featured a guest appearance by Lalah Hathaway; Q-Tip produced a pair of its tracks. Spalding appeared as a guest on Janelle Monáe’s 2013 album The Electric Lady and Bruno Mars’ 2012 Unorthodox Jukebox.These artists clearly acknowledge Spalding as a talented peer. The benefits of their creative exchanges may seem obvious to those outside of jazz, but they run contrary to jazz’s often elitist musical culture. They come at a time when the form has its sights set in the rearview mirror, when most young artists are “trying to sound like they peaked in 1942 or 1957,” says Carrington.Spalding, instead, has more in common with two of jazz’s greatest living composers: pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, co-founder of the superband Weather Report. (Incidentally, Spalding is writing the libretto for Shorter’s opera Iphigenia, premiering in 2020.) Alumni of Miles Davis’ second great quintet, the two men pioneered fusion starting in the 1970s, walking paths that brought them to audiences for commercial music.Yes, Spalding is a fave of the Obamas. In 2009, she performed at President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony.Here she is backstage at the White House in 2016. One of the things I miss the most about not having the Obamas in the White House? The amazing array of artists that they supported, Spalding among them.Here’s Spalding at the 2009 White House Poetry Jam.For Black History Month 2012, Spalding released this remarkable video for “Black Gold.”NPR offers some context.The Afro-centric implication of the title is no coincidence. The song was released yesterday, Feb. 1 — the first day of Black History Month. The video was premiered yesterday on a network called Black Entertainment Television. And to these ears, the music itself connects jazz aesthetics to sounds of black popular music today.In case that message wasn’t clear, Spalding wrote some commentary on the track for members of the press:This song is singing to our African American heritage before slavery. Over the decades, so much of the strength in the African American community has seeded from resistance and endurance. I wanted to address the part of our heritage spanning back to pre-colonial Africa and the elements of Black pride that draw from our connection to our ancestors in their own land. I particularly wanted to create something that spoke to young boys. In the interview below, Spalding talks about growing up in a rough neighborhood, and how important it was to have community programs in Portland that supported the arts. She shares memories of hearing Yo-Yo Ma for the first time, on public television, and on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Full video transcript here.In a 2008 interview with Nu-Soul Magazine, Spalding explained her unique choice of instrument.“Well, I didn’t really choose the bass, nor did I expect it to take me anywhere as I started studying it.  I played many other instruments, well dabbled at them, but the bass had its own arc and it unfolded a path for me that I just kept following. I don’t know why or how, but my evolution on bass actually occurred quite naturally and unexpectedly. What would I do with any other instrument? That is kind of how I feel. The bass and I just resonate.”- Advertisement – The Brooklyn concert was a preview before a world tour that started this month showcasing her new album, which marks her evolution as a singer-songwriter. It is less overtly jazz-related than her four previous solo releases. She doesn’t play any acoustic bass or take solos.“Emily is a name for a process … when you sense that there’s something pent up that you haven’t been developing,” said Spalding, 31, said at a cafe near her Brooklyn home. “It sometimes takes an eruption to open that up and that’s a lot of what Emily does.” The lyrics are powerful:Think of all the strength you have in youFrom the blood you carry within youAncient manPowerful manBuilders of civilizationHold your head as high as you canHigh enough to see who you are, little manLife sometimes is cold and cruelBaby no one else will tell you so remember thatYou are Black Gold, Black GoldYou are Black GoldIn an interview with Yin & Yang, Spalding speaks briefly about her process when writing the song, and about Black identity writ large.She further reinforces her identity as a Black woman—a group for whom hair has historically been a key issue in the context of white society—in “How To (hair),” from her 2018 Grammy Award-winning album, 12 Little Spells. The final lyrics are potent.I raise my palm in praise of the symphonic nappynessHaloing your headI raise my palm in praise of the God-given nappynessHaloing your headI raise my palm in praise of the beautiful nappynessHaloing your headAs with “Black Gold,” the video is a powerful one!In 2016 Spalding went in a different direction, with the release of Emily’s D+Evolution, reviewed for the Philadelphia Tribune by jazz writer Charles J. Gans (who is also a Daily Kos contributor). Supported by her power rock trio of electric guitarist Matthew Stevens, drummer Jason Tyson and three yellow-clad backup singers-dancers, Spalding turned her Brooklyn show into performance art using such props as a stack of books on “Ebony and Ivy,” which alludes to the historic links between elite American universities and the slave trade. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Ronaldo’s Double Puts Juventus Back as Serie A Leader

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus bounced back from their first defeat of the season to beat Udinese 3-1 and move top of Serie A last night.Ronaldo struck twice in the first half to make it five goals in four games as the champions move one point ahead of leaders Inter Milan.“That’s how we have to play, with confidence. Let’s see what happens now,” said Ronaldo. Maurizio Sarri’s side had taken just one point from their last two league games, falling 3-1 to Lazio in Rome last weekend after a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo.But Portuguese star Ronaldo tapped in a Paulo Dybala rebound after nine minutes at the Allianz Stadium, and burst through to finish off a Gonzalo Higuain cross on 36 minutes.Leonardo Bonucci sealed the three points just before the break when he headed in from close range.Ignacio Pussetto pulled a goal back for 17th-placed Udinese four minutes into injury time with his close range effort beating Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal.Juventus play their final Serie A game before the winter break at Sampdoria on Wednesday, with a rematch against Lazio in the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia next weekend.“It is the first time after a Champions League match that we managed to attack the game well,” said Sarri.“We played very well for 60 minutes.”Roma move up to fourth and into the Champions League places after three second-half goals sealed a 3-1 win over rock bottom SPAL.Andrea Petagna had put SPAL ahead from the spot just before the break after Aleksandar Kolarov clumsily brought down Thiago Cionek in the box.But Lorenzo Pellegrini pulled the hosts level eight minutes after the interval with a shot that took a deflection off Nenad Tomovic.Diego Perotti put Roma ahead with a 66th-minute penalty before substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan sealed victory seven minutes from time.Roma are one point behind third-placed city rivals Lazio, who play fifth-placed Caglairi on Monday.Napoli drop to eighth – 11 points off the top four – after last season’s runners-up lost 2-1 to Parma on Saturday.Atalanta are sixth after falling 2-1 at Bologna just days after the Champions League newcomers sealed their place in the competition’s last 16.Rodrigo Palacio opened the scoring after 12 minutes for Bologna off a rebound after a Riccardo Orsolini effort came off the post.Andrea Poli nodded in the second eight minutes after the break, before Ruslan Malinovskyi pulled a goal back on the hour mark.Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are sixth on 28 points, four points off the Champions League places.“We are a team that often creates a lot, but is wasteful. Today we wasted too many opportunities,” said Gasperini.AC Milan were held to a goalless draw against Sassuolo at the San Siro as the former European giants marked their 120th anniversary in tepid style.Theo Hernandez had a goal ruled out after half an hour following a Franck Kessie handball in the buildup, with Rafael Leao hitting the crossbar and the post.Stefano Pioli’s side failed to make it three wins in a row and sit 10th with Sassuolo three places and five points below.Hellas Verona battled back from three goals down with all three substitutes scoring in a 15-minute second-half spell to hold Torino 3-3.Christian Ansaldi scored a brace with Alex Berenguer also on target for the visitors.But Verona hit back with three goals after 69 minutes when Giampaolo Pazzini scored from the spot.Valerio Verre then smashed in off a rebound, before Mariusz Stepinski added a third.Torino are ninth, with Verona two points back in 12th.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

PNC members among President’s nominees for GECOM Chair

first_img…Granger acting in bad faith – PPPIn an unexpected move, President David Granger on Monday submitted eight nominees for chairmanship of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) through his representatives.Kads KhanKessaundra AlvesKim KyteStanley MooreStanley MingAubrey ArmstrongClaudette La BennettJames PattersonMore surprisingly, some of the nominees on the list have displayed strong political linkages to the People’s National Congress (PNC).Both Opposition and Government officials met on Monday for what the Opposition thought would have been meaningful discussions on the possibility of narrowing candidates to fill the position, from the list of 11 nominees that was submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo as constitutionally mandated in Article 161 (2).Former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and Members of Parliament Anil Nandlall and Juan Edghill led the Opposition’s delegation, while Ministry of the Presidency Director General Joseph Harmon; Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan represented President Granger. To the Opposition team’s surprise, upon arrival at the meeting, they were handed a list with the names of eight persons, including unconstitutionally-appointed former GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson. Other persons on the list were Dr Aubrey Armstrong; Retired Justice Stanley Moore; Retired Justice Claudette La Bennet; Georgetown Public Hospital Chairperon Kessaundra Alves; former Solicitor General Kim Kyte and PNC Executives Stanley Ming and Kads Khan.DisappointedAfter the engagement, Opposition representatives voiced their disappointment and dissatisfaction with the proceedings. Nandlall reiterated that the CCJ’s conclusion on fostering “good faith” was violated by Government’s actions to formally submit its own nominees.“These names were supposed to be floated in a fluid way so that the Leader of the Opposition would, in turn, take those names and once agreement is arrived in relation to them, put them along with the list of his constituting six and returning them to the President,” he explained.Paragraph 26 of the CCJ’s recommendation prescribes that “the most sensible approach is that before a list is submitted, the Leader of the Opposition and the President must communicate with each other in good faith on, or perhaps meet to discuss, eligible candidates for the position of Chairman. The aim of these discussions must be to agree the names of six persons who fit the stated eligibility requirements and who are not unacceptable to the President.”According to him, it was their understanding that the 11 names would be deliberated on during the meeting to constrict the list to six persons. While there were signals that the President could make informal suggestions, the eight names were imposed to be deliberated upon. Moreover, the Government’s representatives expressed that they were given “no instruction” on Jagdeo’s list, even though the July 4 meeting with the President laid out these matters.“It was our clear understanding that we were going there this afternoon to consider those 11 names and for the Government to indicate or rather the President’s delegates at that engagement to tell us which of the 11 names the President finds acceptable and which he does not find acceptable. Lo and behold, when we get there, we are confronted with a list from the Government’s side and the members of the President’s team inform us that they have no instruction in relation to the 11 names,” the Attorney-at-Law stressed.Violates good faithHe posited, “That, we believe violates the good faith which is intended for this process to succeed. The President told us very clearly that he would like this process to be completed in a matter of days and we welcome that commitment. Here it is at our very first meeting, the President’s delegation has no instruction in relation to the 11 names that he invited us to submit for his consideration, but puts to us, eight names of his own. That does not augur well for the continuation of the process.”The former Attorney General insisted that if progress was not made on the 11 names in future meetings, they would be convinced that the process was not being “constructively pursued”.Meanwhile, he pointed to the selections made by the President, noting that some were perceptibly politically affiliated. This contradicted the Head of State’s recommendations to Jagdeo to select persons with judgelike and impartial qualities, beyond the political scope.“We don’t wish to cast any aspersions on the names submitted, but the names have been revealed. Look at those names and you will see among those names, persons who are highly politically connected to the Government. Now, the President even before the ruling of the CCJ, had articulated certain qualities that he would like to see in the nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition,” Nandlall stated.He added, “He said that they must have judgelike qualities and he expounded that to mean that they must be persons who are impartial, who have integrity, who are above the political fray, etc. If that’s the President’s position and he wants the Leader of the Opposition to submit names bearing those qualifications, then one would expect him to reciprocate and put names of the same calibre and pedigree.”These persons selected by the Opposition were once rejected by the President, who then unilaterally appointed Justice Patterson as the GECOM Chairman, a move which was flawed. As such, the Opposition’s former Chief Whip signalled that the President might be making that blunder again. Other questions were raised as to whether this list was an indirect rejection of the Opposition Leader’s choices.The Constitution states that the Leader of the Opposition was solely responsible for sourcing six nominees for the position of GECOM Chairman who should be acceptable to the President.Teixeira expressed, “For the President now to be imposing in a sense eight names and not allowing us to go through the 11, these are not good indications that the Government is serious about moving forward.”She, nevertheless, said that both sides would meet again today, and the 11 nominees would have to be addressed foremost. After that, other choices will be considered or the Opposition Leader will submit more names if necessary.last_img read more

Morehouse To Honor Robert F Smith Angela Bassett

first_img Photos And Video From Jay-Z’s Historic B-Sides Show At Webster Hall The commencement ceremony is slated to take place on May 19. More than 300 scholars will receive degrees and over 3,000 individuals are expected to attend.SEE ALSO:Morehouse Makes History With New Transgender PolicyMorehouse Receives $1.5M Gift From Black Billionaire Robert F. Smith AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisMoreShare to EmailEmailEmail Graduation season is about to be in full swing and as institutions across the country celebrate the accomplishments of graduates, they will also recognize individuals who have left indelible marks within their respective industries by awarding them with honorary degrees. Morehouse College recently announced that actress Angela Bassett and entrepreneur Robert F. Smith will be given honorary degrees at its 135th commencement ceremony in May. Angela Bassett , Graduation , Honorary Degree , Morehouse , Morehouse College , Robert F. Smith center_img Commencement 2019 speaker will be investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. @RFS_Vista #Morehouse— Morehouse College (@Morehouse) April 20, 2019 Jay-Z Webster Hall show Smith—who is the founder and chief executive officer of the venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners—will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The billionaire has used his platform and resources to push philanthropic efforts forward. Earlier this year he donated $1.5 million to Morehouse for the creation of a scholarship fund and the development of a new outdoor study area on campus. He was also the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s largest private donor and has been an advocate for education and combating global poverty.Bassett has used her artistry to bring the narratives of strong Black women to film and television. Some of her most pivotal roles were in films that include What’s Love Got to Do With It, Boyz ‘N the Hood, Malcolm X, Black Panther and countless other projects. Bassett will receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree.“As Morehouse College celebrates its 152nd year of serving students, we are honored to welcome our community partner Robert F. Smith, one of the greatest business minds of our time, back to campus to share in the ceremony that is the highlight of the year,” David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College, said in a statement. “His words of inspiration, and the presence of our other honorary degree recipients, will give the Class of 2019 a memorable experience that will challenge them to take the lessons that they learned as Men of Morehouse and become game-changers in their future endeavors.”last_img read more