Sometimes, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences plays a trick on the category of “Best New Artist” and causes the general public to go wild.
This year, relatively unknown vocalist, composer, and jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding won the award.
Molli Vitta, a 19-year-old sophomore communication major, said she was surprised by Spalding’s win.
“I honestly don’t know anything about her,” Vitta said.
Last year, the Zac Brown Band beat favorites MGMT and Keri Hilson for Best New Artist, and the year before the Jonas Brothers lost to Adele.
Although popular contemporary artists like Christina Aguilera, Norah Jones, and Carrie Underwood have won in the past, artists who fly just below the radar have had the most success.
Spalding, the first jazz musician to ever win the award, has been on the music scene since 2006. At 6-years-old, and inspired by Yo Yo Ma, she taught herself to play the violin and joined the chamber music society of Oregon.
As the 2005 recipient of the Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship, Spalding was hired almost immediately after graduation to teach at Berklee College of Music.
Spalding’s 2008 self-titled album remained on the top of the Billboard Charts for over 70 weeks and became the best-selling album by a new jazz artist internationally that year.
Since 2006, Spalding has released three albums. Spalding’s newest album, “Radio Music Society” is said to be more accessible to mainstream radio soon.
Lindsie Haggerty, a 19-year-old freshman business management major, said she had seen Spalding in concert prior to her Grammy performance.
“I saw her open for MGMT last summer,” Haggerty said. “I wasn’t sure who she was but she gave a very lively performance. When I saw her perform on the Grammys I immediately knew who she was because she gave a performance that was hard to forget.”
Some have criticized the academy’s choice of Spalding over expected winners Mumford and Sons, Drake or Justin Bieber.
Hilary Devlin, a 20-year-old sophomore international affairs major, said she does not disagree with Spalding’s win.
“[The Grammys] aren’t meant to be ‘the most popular musical talents’,” Devlin said. “They’re supposed to be the most talented artists, whether or not they’re popular.”
Vitta said she was glad the award went to a fresh face.
“It’s refreshing to know it wasn’t won by Drake or Bieber,” Vitta said.
Spalding’s sound can be described as a fusion of classical, funk, and indie-pop.
Some popular songs include “Really Very Small,” “Knowledge of Good and Evil,” “Wild Is the Wind,” and “What a Friend.”
Contact Staff Writer Caitlin McCluskey at Caitlin.firstname.lastname@example.org.