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IT'S ALIVE: Esperanza Spalding "Tell Him" (The White House, 2009)

It's Alive briefly devotes the airwaves to live music everyday at 1pm. Tune in today hear this performance and more live tracks!

Happy birthday to musician and composer Esperanza Spalding! The bassist and singer-songwriter was born in Portland, Oregon in 1984, and wasted no time forging a professional music career; at just five years old, she served as a violinist for the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. She later learned several new instruments and attended Portland State University and the Berklee College of Music, both with scholarships. She released her first album Junjo in 2006, followed by a self-titled release in 2008. She gained commercial and further critical acclaim when she was the first jazz artist to win Best New Artist after releasing her third album Chamber Music Society in 2010.

Spalding has continued to release exciting and progressive jazz music that keeps the genre alive. She has found ways to excite both jazz fans and listeners who may not usually be drawn to the style. In this performance at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word on May 12, 2009, she reinterprets the neo-soul classic "Tell Him" by Lauryn Hill. Originally on Hill's seminal 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the song is given new life when Spalding sings it while playing her signature instrument, the double bass.

Otis is the late morning host on WFPK. Email Otis at ojunior@lpm.org