Each and every year, I watch the Grammy’s. And each and every year I come away from the program with mixed feelings. The performances are always entertaining. And there’s usually a wonderful blend of artists on stage for the big night. But the awards themselves have officially become an afterthought, which, sadly, is just as well. Because the Grammy’s usually get many of them wrong.
But last night, they got many of them right. And in so doing, the Grammy’s not only earned a little bit of cred, they also gave this dad some much needed hope.
I watched from bed, willing myself to stay awake, specifically rooting for non-hype winners in two prestigious categories. Best New Artist and Best Album. I’ll confess, I didn’t think there was a chance that Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs would take home the hardware for the best album. But I was wrong. For the second time that night. And I was glad for the second time that night, too.
The first time was when little known Jazz singer Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist. She beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford & Sons for the honor. And while I would have been happy if either Mumford & Sons or Esperanza Spalding had won, I was virtually certain that Justin Bieber would win. After all, how can an army of pre-pubescent girls be wrong?
Thank goodness they were. Because artists like Esperanza Spalding need more exposure. I first heard of her when she was asked to perform after President Obama’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. And as I watched her perform, I couldn’t help but wonder one simple thing:
Why isn’t Esperanza Spalding the one my daughter idolizes as opposed to Hannah Montana or Katy Perry? Last night’s victory gives me hope that maybe one day such will be the case.
But that day certainly isn’t today, as evidenced by the hack job a bunch of Justin Bieber fans did to Esperanza’s Wikipedia page. MTV reports that livid “Beliebers” smeared the classically trained artist by adding comments like “Justin Bieber deserved it go die in a hole. Who the heck are you anyway?” to her profile. And that was just the beginning.
In other places, the singer’s middle name was changed to both “Justin” and “Quesadilla” and her Grammy win was written up with the addendum, “Even though no one has ever heard of her! Yay!”
And therein lies the problem. That’s why she’s not idolized today. No one has ever heard of her. Or at least had ever heard of her. Plenty of folks know who she is now. And that’s a good thing. Because she’s a true artist — the exact type of person I’d want any of my children to look up to.
Here’s a video clip of her performing at the White House honoring Stevie Wonder. Truly amazing. Quick. Grab your daughter. Ask her if she thinks if maybe, just maybe, Esperanza is a touch better than Selena Gomez.