Esperanza Spalding gets her 'Grammy moment' at the Oscars
As exhibited by the montage of actors swooning about how much they love movies, the Academy Awards aren't known for their subtlety. And yet, during Sunday night's "In Memoriam" segment, which in the past has been televised as a grief-by-applause-meter tribute, the academy put together a genuinely affecting moment thanks to a delicate performance of "What a Wonderful World" by last year's Grammy winner for new artist, Esperanza Spalding.
While a few Twitter commenters couldn't help noticing that yet again Spalding -- and by implication, jazz -- was confined to background music (a reference to the Grammys' puzzling decision to only let her perform at the 2011 telecast as part of a high school ensemble while Neil Portnow and "Glee's" Matthew Morrison spoke), this was another high-profile moment when the singer-bassist had an opportunity to shine, and she seized it with an understated grace.
With her Grammy follow-up album "Radio Music Society" due next month, this performance served as an elegant reminder of her talents -- as far afield from a Louis Armstrong ballad as they may venture outside Oscar's orbit.
Listen to Spalding's Academy Award performance backed by the Southern California Children's Chorus in a YouTube stream after the jump, and ask again if the Grammys really should've honored Justin Bieber.
-- Chris Barton
Photo of Esperanza Spalding onstage at the Academy Awards by Matt Brown / AMPAS EPA