PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — She is one of the brightest musical stars to ever come out of Portland. Now Esperanza Spalding is back home, with a plan to develop the creativity of other Portland-area musicians. 


Spalding exploded on the national scene in 2010, winning the first of her four Grammys as Best New Artist, beating out Justin Beiber and Drake. 

The jazz bassist, singer and Harvard music professor has performed at the White House and all over the world. 

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit 

“I thought if this is the end of the world, where would I want to spend it? and I thought, I would want to spend it in Oregon — with my family, and this is my favorite land — you know what I mean,” she said. “I let a lot of things go, and started prioritizing these visions for years.” 

Spalding said the natural environment helps in her creative process. 

“I create best when I’m on the ground –with nature — with fellow artists who are in their deep questioning, and in their deep creative processes — that’s my ideal ‘making’ environment,” she said. 

Spalding wants to establish an artists sanctuary in North Portland, not far from where she grew up. It would have a garden to grow healthy food, a recording studio, rehearsal spaces, a reading room, and gathering places for Portland’s talented musicians of color to share, create and collaborate.  

“So, I know what these spaces can do. I’ve lived in them, and I benefited from them,” Spalding said. 

Spalding found property in North Portland with enough space to make her vision a reality. She’s saved enough to get halfway there but needs help to get to the finish line as she’s on a deadline. 

“I’m asking 300 people to give a thousand dollars by June 3,” Spalding said. “I’ll do a private concert in gratitude for those 300 people once the money is raised … as the artists, we’ll do the rest. 

Spalding knows that once the pandemic is over, she’ll be on the road again. But the sanctuary is the place she wants to come home to.

“Artists need our time in the sanctuary with each other to create the good works that then we send out to the world.”

Visit Spalding’s GoFundMe to donate toward making her vision a reality.