Photo: Christian Witkin
7. Esperanza Spalding, 25
Distinction: The Austin-based multilingual bass player has recorded two albums, Junjo and Esperanza, and has a new one out this August. President Obama picked her to play at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
How'd you get into music? I became interested when I was 4, after seeing classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Within a year, I started playing violin with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon.
How did you choose the bass? I was introduced to it in high school, and it was love at first touch. After a teacher opened my eyes to improvisation and the blues, I was hooked.
Which musicians do you aspire to be like? I admire musicians who stretch their limits, like Stevie Wonder, Wayne Shorter, André 3000, Minnie Riperton, and Joni Mitchell. But I want to create my own path.
What one person do you admire most? One of my heroes is Henry David Thoreau. He identified the things that upset him about society and found a way to live by his values.
How do you indulge yourself? Sleeping. Just being lazy. Watching Woody Allen movies for eight hours and drinking beer and doing absolutely nothing.
If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? My acoustic bass, which is a couple hundred years old. It's beautiful.
Designer: Susan Woo
Next: Autumn Adkins, the first female president of Girard College
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