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Grammy Awards: Three albums in, Esperanza Spalding is a deserving best new artist, and Mick Jagger makes an entrance

February 13, 2011 |  7:57 pm

Spalding Jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding wasn't the favorite to be named best new artist, but she's perhaps the most adventurous artist in the crop. Justin Bieber really never had much of a shot, as Grammy voters stay away from teen stars. Drake was deserving, as he released some of the more emotional hip-hop of the last year, and the debut from Florence + the Machine, "Lungs," is full of highs and lows, but beyond hit single "Dog Days Are Over," much of it is an album for fans only.

So it's rare for a jazz artist to win: In 2008, Herbie Hancock’s “River: The Joni Letters” was named album of the year, the first jazz title to lead the field in approximately 50 years, and Norah Jones, who leans decidedly more toward pop, was named best new artist in 2003, one of the few talents with a jazz background to lead the field. I woulda put my money (except not, cuz betting, it's bad) on Mumford & Sons, as the folksy act seemed more like Grammy artists, but Spalding, three albums in, has had the critical and industry support for a few years now.

So it's not her first, but she's an artist deserving of more recognition, and one the Grammy Awards should be highlighting. So....Grammy voters, congrats. You got this one right. 

As for Mick Jagger paying tribute to Solomon Burke, there was nothing not to like in his take on "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." Jagger was raised on this sort of bluesey-soul, and he brought the crowd to his feet like few others. Personally, I would have liked to have seen him dig a little deeper and go beyond the big hit that's been covered by dozens, and give a performance that really would inspire people to check out Burke.

-- Todd Martens

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times