**Below you’ll find an interview I completed back in July 2010 with Grammy Award Winning artist, Esperanza Spalding. I’m re-posting for those asking about her Grammy 2012 hair! Enjoy!**

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As promised, Esperanza is On the Couch!

This jazz bassist and singer is not only amazingly gorgeous and talented, she was also a child prodigy! Finished with high school by 16, she was hired at Berklee College of Music at 20, becoming one of the youngest professors in the institutions history. How’s that for brains and beauty?!
Last month, she paid homage to Prince, singing “If I Was Your Girlfriend’ at the BET music awards. Her performance was noteworthy and Prince clearly thought so as well– his nod of approval was seen by all.

The curly world has always adored Esperanza Spalding- – her music, her chic style, her beautiful face. But it’s her perfectly executed ‘fro that makes her a permanent fixture in our inspirational photo albums. During the interview, there was one word swirling in my mind… Pure. Her routine is probably one of the most simplistic I’ve come across! Check her out:


On her natural hair story…

I’ve been natural my entire life! My mother didn’t believe in relaxers, and vowed never to put lye on her child’s scalp. Lye is very toxic and your scalp is among the thinnest skin that you have on your body. The harm this stuff can do should not be taken lightly. I’ve never had a relaxer, and I never will.

On embracing her natural texture…

I’ve pretty much always loved my hair but there were a few years where I really didn’t know how to take care of it. My hair is not as thick as it used to be… when I was younger it was SO, so thick! I didn’t know what to do with it and found it to be very frustrating. Around age 13 or 14, I began to learn new techniques which expanded my styling options, and that’s about the time that I truly began to embrace it.

On her experiences in the entertainment industry…

Wow… I never really think about it. I mean, it certainly makes me ‘identifiable’ when I show up with my Afro, but, to me, that’s the most obvious way to wear my hair. That’s how it grows out of my scalp. Having big natural hair makes me stand out to people at first take. I think of myself as an artist, as a musician, and I’m happy that my hair is just one more way that I can express myself.

On her current routine and achieving her signature Afro…

I usually wash my hair once a week– a really thorough wash using a shampoo bar full of oils and natural cleansing agents. I then apply a mix of Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Olive Oil and Tea Tree Oil to my wet hair, brush it through using a typical Goody Brush (the white one with the red plastic bed and teeth), set my hair in 8 twists and allow it to air dry. The twists not only help to set my hair, but they also keep it from tangling as it dries. In between washing sessions, I’ll re-apply my butter mix and twist my hair. I find that I don’t really need conditioner. My hair fairs well with little product. My routine is very simple, very natural.

On routine changes while touring…

I keep the same routine when I can. I do find that I have to moisturize it a lot more often because the air gets so dry. I usually do my hair myself– whenever I’ve let others try, they usually mess it up, LOL. People just don’t know what to do with it! The few times that I’ve gone to a hair dresser to get it cut, I’d let them brush through it, and blow it out in order to get it even, but I’d lose so much hair! Not cool, and I’m pretty sure I’m not going that route again.
Luckily my hair regimen is simple– it’s not much to it, it’s just an Afro, so it’s easy for me to maintain on my own while on tour. My hair is the least of my concerns while I’m out here trying to lead my band and put on a show every night.

On protecting her hair at night…

I usually just re-twist it to keep it from matting up or tangling while I’m asleep. In the morning, I release the twists, and fluff it out. I moisturize with the butter mix as needed.

On being natural…

Embracing and freely wearing my natural hair is like a form of self- exploration. I’m not White, I’m not European, and my hair is not straight. So I don’t have any desire to make it straight– it doesn’t speak to who I am as a person. I am very mixed and I like that my hair is a reflection of that. My hair is an extension of me, and that’s how it should be.


On getting others to embrace their natural hair…

Don’t get discouraged when at first your hair doesn’t do what you want it to do. That’s part of the beauty of it! You have to learn to work with whatever you have. Some people get frustrated when it doesn’t ‘respond’. Just give it time, be patient, and enjoy it! I love seeing people do their thing and embrace what ever type of hair they have. I also find it inspiring to see naturals that rock crazy, creative and artistic styles.

On her upcoming projects and ventures…

Please check out Chamber Music Society, my new album set to be released August 17th in the U.S. It’s inspired by the classical training of my younger years– it weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical chamber music traditions. Pick it up!

To the CurlyNikki.com Community:

Rock it proud! Be proud of the unique combination of genetics, cultures, and people that allow your hair to be the unique entity that it is. Let it be!