Born in 1984 in Portland, Oregon, esperanza spalding (a.k.a. irma nejando) is an eaabibacliitoti* artist, trained and initiated in the North American (masculine) jazz lineage and tradition. Her work interweaves through various combinations of instrumental music, improvisation, singing, composition, poetry, dance, therapeutic research, storytelling, teaching, regenerative agriculture, urban land & artist-sanctuary custodianship, and growing in love as a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, auntie, great-auntie, friend, while collaboratively decolonizing within and through her hometown community. She co-founded and serves as lead curator for Prismid Inc., a non-profit that creates and stewards artist residency, performance, and workshop space in Portland, Oregon.
esperanza continues to collaborate and perform in new productions of “…(Iphigenia)”, an opera written by Wayne Shorter, for whom she wrote the libretto and co-produced its 2021/2022 premieres // is currently developing a mockumentary in collaboration with brontë velez and San Francisco Symphony // researching and developing liberation rituals in jazz and black dance // and through the Songwrights Apothecary Lab continuing a lifelong collaboration with practitioners in various fields relating to sound, healing, and cognition to develop music with enhanced therapeutic potential.
With her dance company Off Brand gOdds (co-founded with Antonio Brown) and the Songwrights Apothecary Lab she leads multi-week performance, teaching, workshop, and therapeutic-arts research residencies in collaboration with colleges and arts venues across the Americas, and throughout the world.
Her forthcoming installation “I love being Black/Quit saying I’m Black” opens in a near future, commissioned and produced by institutions who do the work themselves of learning about, reaching out to, and offering comprehensive support to eaabibacliitoti (and other ancestored) artists rather than demanding we take on the burden of proving our competency and worthiness to receive the resources required to deliver our medicine – uncontorted & well-rested – to our communities/the world.
*European-African ancestored being influenced by American cultures living in Indigenous Lands of Turtle Island