Esperanza Spalding Celebrates U.S Black History Month
‘Black Gold’ as the first single from her forthcoming album, Radio Music Society. The Afro-centric implication of the title is no coincidence. Black History Month is a national annual celebration for the remembrance of significant people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in the month of October.
The remembrance originated in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson as ‘Negro History Week’. Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans: former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass. Woodson also founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
‘Black Gold’ was released on February 1 — the first day of Black History Month in the US. The music itself connects jazz aesthetics to the sounds of black popular music today. 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.
“Think of all the strength you have in you
From the blood you carry within you
Builders of civilization”
It has not taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Listeners familiar with her stunning 2008 Heads Up International debut, Esperanza, and her best-selling 2010 release Chamber Music Society, were well aware that the young bassist, vocalist and composer from Portland, Oregon was the real deal, with a unique and style-spanning presence, deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm. That judgment was confirmed on February 13, 2011, when Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. On March 20th, 2012, Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, gives us Spalding’s latest release, Radio Music Society, her most diverse, ambitious and masterful recital yet. 11 songs are accompanied by conceptual short films, which further express Esperanza’s inspiration and story behind each track. Shot in various locations including New York City; Barcelona, Spain; and Portland, Oregon; all videos will be available to purchasers of Radio Music Society as a digital download or a DVD on the deluxe version.
Radio Music Society is a companion, rather than a sequel, to Spalding’s previous disc, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. “Originally I thought it would be fun to release a double album,” she explains, “One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize as “pop songs.” Those are the two things that really interest me, and it intrigues me to think about different presentation approaches while writing each kind of song. On the pop song side, I think about listeners who aren’t into jazz, but I also think about the people within my musical community who can interpret each idea best.”