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Studio Sessions from KNKX Public Radio feature some of the best jazz and blues musicians. Performing from downtown Seattle, we feature artists such as Arturo Sandoval, Gregory Porter, Christian McBride and more! KNKX thanks Jim and Birte Falconer for their support of studio sessions and a free, independent and energetic press, who urge listeners to get involved in their local community, and to support KNKX.

Who is Esperanza Spalding?

Esperanza Spalding shocked millions Sunday night as she beat out teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, among others, in the category of "Best New Artist."

Esperanza Spalding walked into the KPLU Seattle studios like some teenaged gunslinger. However, she’d been working full time in music for most of her 25 years, and her chosen weapon was a double-bass that reached just above her impressive afro.

Now a Grammy Award winner for Best New Artist (take that, Justin Bieber!), I’ve recently enjoyed listening back to our meeting a year ago, and specifically our interview.

In high school, Esperanza says she had the chance to play with a fantastic group of veteran blues & jazz men in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She calls them an “extended family” that she hadn’t met yet, and she felt welcomed into the musical tradition almost immediately.

As she said, “bass players are always workin’”. I was struck at her passion for musical studies, and her deep love for her new found family.

Esperanza’s acceptance speech at the Grammys was appropriately appreciative – thanking her friends back home, and expressing her sincere appreciation for the honor.

Who’d have guessed a 20-something jazz bassist/singer would be the Best New Artist of the year? The answer: Everyone who heard that KPLU performance just over a year ago.

You can head down to Portland to see Esperanza playing at her hometown’s jazz festival on February 25 -

You can check out pictures and video below of the performance.

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.