In a 2012 performance headlined by Anita Baker, Esperanza Spalding led… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Grammy-winning bassist and bandleader Esperanza Spalding can add TV host to her resume with the announcement that she will be hosting a new weekly music show on Magic Johnson's new Aspire network.
Spalding joins actor Laurence Fishburne and comic Jonathan Slocumb on the network's roster for a series called "Groundbreaking," which will feature weekly programming dedicated to movies, comedy and music. Spalding's first episode of "Groundbreaking Music" airs Friday at 8 p.m. with "Earth Wind and Fire Live," and future specials will highlight performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dorothy Dandridge.
One of the best known jazz artists working today as a result of a surprise best new artist win at the 2011 Grammy Awards, Spalding has appeared in a number of high-profile settings including a date performing at the White House and a stirring performance at this year's Oscars. Spalding's 2012 follow-up to her Grammy win, "Radio Music Society," went to No. 1 on the contemporary jazz charts for several weeks.
In interviews as well as onstage, Spalding has proven to be an outspoken advocate for raising the profile of jazz, and it will be interesting to see what other artists are highlighted on the show as it progresses.
Targeting African American TV viewers, the Atlanta-based Aspire network was launched by Magic Johnson Enterprises in June, and its lineup also features movies, music videos, and a roster of vintage television series that includes "Soul Train," "I Spy" and "The Flip Wilson Show." It is currently available in select markets on Comcast digital cable.
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