Esperanza Spalding on making an album from scratch – for the whole world to see


Jazz musician Esperanza Spalding

CBS News

Jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for best new artist in 2011, becoming the first jazz musician to win the award. The 33-year-old musical prodigy has released five albums and appears to push the boundaries farther with each one. 

Her sixth album, "Exposure," was created from scratch in just over three days. And as if that wasn't daunting enough, she decided to let the whole world watch. For 77 straight hours in September, every second of her writing and recording process – the good, the bad and the ugly – was streamed on Facebook Live.

"In theory, before we went in, it felt awesome. Then on day one, when I walked into the studio, I was like 'this was a stupid idea,'" she told CBS News' Anthony Mason.  

Spalding was seeking pure spontaneity.

Preview: Esperanza Spalding 00:24

"You have to have a lot of confidence to do that, though," Mason said.

"Yeah, or just foolishness. And I think they're closely allied in the psyche — the fool and the hero," she joked. "You have to be willing to be heard not being cool, smart, on it, or brilliant. A big element of this was just accepting that wholeheartedly."

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Spalding started playing violin at age four.

"Not because I was in love with the instrument, but because I had seen Yo Yo Ma perform on 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' and I didn't know the word 'cello.' So, I said, 'Mom, mom, mom, mom. I wanna play the violin,'" Spalding recalled.

Within a year, she was playing with a chamber music orchestra.

"It was such a heightened experience compared to everything else that I felt as a kid. I wanted to get it again and again. I wanted to be in that environment," Spalding said.

Her debut album, "Esperanza," released in 2008, spent 78 weeks on the Billboard jazz chart.

She was invited to perform at the White House and then she won that best new artist Grammy, beating out, among others, Justin Bieber.

Esperanza Spalding during the live-streamed making of her album, "Exposure."

"My brother cried. That was the best part," she said. "He's so stoic."

"It opened up so much stuff in such a ridiculously major way."

She will release just 7,777 CD and vinyl copies of the new record. They were sold out before the session even started.

"I put that in place to kind of keep me committed 'cause I knew I was gonna get scared right before it was time to jump," Spalding said. 

And scared she was. She was afraid of being a loser. 

Spalding says she took inspiration from her idol, the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter. 

"Somebody asked him, like, 'Can you define jazz for us?' And he said, 'Yeah, jazz means I dare you,'" she said. "That's what we did for 77 hours. We just dared."

Spalding's new album will be shipped to the 7,777 customers soon.