“Bob Edwards Weekend” Radio Show
Edwards interviews people he finds interesting, from newsmakers, historians, and authors to artists, actors, and regular folks too.
A two-part interview with Esperanza Spaulding was aired Friday, September 24, 2010
This is the way an interview ought to go. Ask questions and listen to the answers - without interrupting the interviewee. It helps to have an interviewee who is self- aware, has a sense of humor, a deep understanding of the technical aspects of her art and can get them across to the ears of a layperson. In this case, I’m talking about Bob Edwards and Esperanza Spaulding.
I can't tell you how many times I switch the dial when an interviewer interrupts the interviewee to show how much he/she knows about the subject or diverts the place the interviewee is going to someplace else the interviewer wants to investigate. Not so here.
Look, here’s a link to the first part of Bob Edwards’ interview with Esperanza Spaulding, a 25 year-old bassist, composer, and singer. Within that first few minutes, you’ll hear Edwards begin to ask a series of terrific open-ended questions and Spaulding respond with thoughtful, ingenuous, articulate answers.
I came across the interview on WGBH-FM as I was in the midst of a homeowner chore. After Spaulding’s delightful burst of infectious laughter while she considered Edwards first question, I turned up the volume. The task could wait. I’d heard of Esperanza Spaulding (who could forget such a name), and knew she was some kind of jazz phenomenon.
Audio clips Edwards played from her recently released album, “Chamber Music Society,” demonstrated Spaulding's mastery of tone and pitch while improvising with her voice alone or with her bass, or with an ensemble. By the time the interview was finished, I realized I’d pay to hear her talk about her craft, let alone play her upright bass and sing.
In her response to Edwards first question on part 2 of the interview, she explains improvisation and harmonics in a way that changed the way I will listen to music. Spaulding has a way of translating her thought processes in a way that resembles improvisation, taking Edwards’s question then answering it with examples and anecdotes that revolve around the core of what he asked.
The interview was satisfyingly rounded as Spaulding talked with insight about the way she composes and records music, the ways in which her mother instilled positive energy into their life in a poor, single parent home in Portland, OR, and the many adults who recognized her talent and helped cultivate Spaulding’s innate passion for music.
‘When you’re young, it’s easy to take the generosity of others for granted,” she says.
She regrets that by the time she called Hazel DeLorenzo and Dorothy McCormick, two women who ran the Portland, OR, “Chamber Music Society” that found her a violin and gave her free instruction when she was a kid, they had passed away. She did get a letter from Mr. Fred Rogers, to whom she wrote when she was around five years old and saw two actors dress up as an upright bass and play it on his program.
If you decide to listen to this interview, pretend that you’re having a cup of coffee or a drink at your favorite bar and happen to sit next to these two people having this conversation. By the time they say goodbye to each other, you’ll want to pick up their tab.
Esperanza Spaulding top photo from her web site, bottom from Sanders Theater site
Bob Edwards photo from his web site