When I was 11, my older brother was really into Sting. I used to steal all of his CDs out of their cases, sneak them to my room and listen to them. I remember hearing "Seven Days" for the first time the song is in 5/4 time and thinking, Who is this pop star who writes in such a hip time signature? I didn't yet know that Sting, 59, played jazz or worked with jazz greats like Kenny Kirkland.
Sting's songwriting is what I'm most inspired by when I think about my own endeavors. He's found the perfect balance of being able to write very avant-garde songs that are accessible to people who wouldn't otherwise consider themselves jazz fans. My music doesn't sound like Sting's, and it never will. But I hope to have his bravery when it comes to writing songs that mainstream audiences can access.
Spalding, a jazz bassist, won the Best New Artist award at the 2011 Grammys
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