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Esperanza Emily Spalding (born October 18, 1984) is an American jazz bassist, cellist, singer, and songwriter. Spalding was raised in Portland, Oregon and was a musical prodigy, playing violin in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at age five. She was later both self-taught and -trained on a number of instruments, including guitar and bass. Her proficiency earned her scholarships to Portland State University and the Berklee College of Music.
By the time Spalding was five, she had taught herself to play the violin and was playing with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Spalding stayed with the group until she was 15, and left as concertmaster. Due to a lengthy childhood illness, Spalding spent much of her elementary school years being homeschooled, but also attended King Elementary School in northeast Portland. During this time, she also found the opportunity to pick up instruction in music by listening to her mother's college teacher instructor, who instructed her mother in guitar. According to Spalding, when she was about eight, her mother briefly studied jazz guitar in college. Spalding says: "Going with her to her class, I would sit under the piano. Then I would come home and I would be playing her stuff that her teacher had been playing." Spalding also played oboe and clarinet before discovering the double bass in high school. She sings in English, Spanish and Portuguese