Esperanza Spalding has risen to the stature of an international symbol of cultural enlightenment. The Berklee educated (and educating) jazz bassist has played the White House, and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Her first name means "hope." Last year, she enraged Beliebers by winning the best new artist Grammy. Last night, she got to sing Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" during the In Memoriam segment of the Oscar telecast.
Otherwise, there wasn't a whole lot of worthwhile music of note at the 2012 telecast, with Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie's trophy-snagging best song winner - out of an inexplicably slim category of two nominees - "Man or Muppet?" not even getting a performance slot. But the splendiferously Afroed Spalding handled her assignment with understatement and class, providing the soundtrack for the show's one between-awards segment that didn't feel like unnecessary padding, while paying tribute to dearly departed silver screen presences such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Russell and Whitney Houston.
Spalding's Radio Music Society comes out March 20. She plays the Electric Factory on May13. The audio from her Oscar performance is below.