Esperanza Spalding donates Nobel Prize dress to Smithsonian

Acclaimed bassist, singer and composer Esperanza Spalding donated the dress she wore for her performance at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for President Obama to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on Monday, October 17.

The donation continues the museum’s women in jazz initiative, which was launched in April as part of Jazz Appreciation Month. Spalding is widely acclaimed for her innovative blend of jazz, folk and world music with classical chamber music traditions, and was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011 for her second album, Chamber Music Society. To earn the Grammy, she beat out an impressive field, including teen idol Justin Bieber.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Spalding studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., where she went on to become one of the youngest professors in the history of the college at the age of 20.
After signing the official deed that transferred ownership of the dress to the museum, Spalding expressed her gratitude to be honored by the Smithsonian by citing her own favorite quote of Duke Ellington with the following words. “He said, ‘Tomorrow is waiting in the wings for you to sound her entrance fanfare.’ And when I hear you speak of all these individuals who were beyond category, I think of the people who were in touch with that reality, that the world is of their making. When I think of making the future, I think of the value of understanding the past. I’m just so grateful and honored to be a part now of the history that generations can continue to look to for inspiration.”

(Click on the icons below for our slideshow of the donation ceremony at the museum.)

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