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Esperanza Spalding’s signature instrument is the timeless and unaffected bass—an apt emblem for an artist whose concept of engagement centers less on the zeitgeist of social media and more on considered conversations and uninhibited creative expression. Since winning a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011, Spalding has evolved this dialogue to incorporate acting, staging and directing, which, together, extend beyond entertainment to stir our collective capacity for constructive change.

How has music’s place in your life changed over the years?

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Two

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