Craft Recordings is proud to announce a 10th anniversary edition of Radio Music Society, the fourth GRAMMY Award-winning album from singer, songwriter and bassist Esperanza Spalding.
Set for release on December 2 and available for pre-order here today, the 2-LP set is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI, while the track will also be reissued in stunning high-res digital sound.
Executive produced by legendary hip-hop artist Q-Tip, the 2012 album features the singles “Black Gold” and “Radio Song,” as well as GRAMMY®-winning track “City of Roses,” and features a line all-star talent, including pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, as well as singers Lalah Hathaway and Gretchen Parlato, among many others.
When Esperanza Spalding began work on Radio Music Society, the sequel to her breakthrough third album, Chamber Music Society (2010), she enjoyed the rarefied status of being one of the industry’s most exciting new stars. A musical virtuoso from Portland, OR – whose work straddles the line between jazz, soul and R&B – Spalding attended Berklee College of Music, where upon graduation she became one of the youngest teachers of the prestigious institution.
The artist also kept busy with her trio and quickly caught the attention of label representatives, releasing her debut album, Junjo, in 2006, followed by Esperanza in 2008. It was the Chamber Music Society, however, that placed the artist on a global platform, especially after his 2011 GRAMMY win for Best New Artist.
While Chamber Music Society’s songs were underlined by classical instrumentation, Radio Music Society found Spalding moving towards a pop-oriented sound. Working with hit producer and rapper, Q-Tip, Spalding has assembled a wide range of famous musicians to join her in the studio, including Leo Genovese (keyboards), Darren Barrett (trumpet), Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone), guitarists Jef Lee Johnson and Lionel Loueke, and drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, Billy Hart and Jack DeJohnette. The artist has also chosen a list of star-studded guest singers, including Gretchen Parlato, Algebra Blessett, Lalah Hathaway and Leni Stern.
With a dynamic collection of ten original tracks, plus two choice covers (“Endangered Species” by Wayne Shorter and “I Can’t Help It” by Stevie Wonder, made famous by Michael Jackson), Radio Music Society offers a compelling example of Spalding’s chameleon versatility as an artist.
Highlights include “Black Gold,” featuring vocals by Blessett and Loueke, with additional backing from the Savannah Children’s Choir. An adult R&B Top 40 hit, the upbeat song offers an uplifting message of hope for young black men, as Spalding sings “Hold your head as high as you can / High enough to see who you are, little man …Think of all the strength you have within you/The blood you carry within you.”
The second single “Radio Song”, which opens the album, finds Spalding ruminating on the magical power of music to lift spirits. Another standout track is the funky, airy love song, “Crowned & Kissed,” which showcases Carrington and Genovese’s nimble work, while the swinging “Hold on Me” finds Spalding channeling the vocal styles of singers from classic jazz. The artist’s jazz roots also particularly shine in the airy “City of Roses”, which features many Big Band grooves from the American music program. The uplifting song won a GRAMMY for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).
Spalding also tackles social and political issues, focusing on the war in Afghanistan in the solemn “Vague Suspicions.” The brief but powerful ballad, “Land of the Free,” meanwhile, centers on the 2011 exoneration of Cornelius Dupree, who spent 30 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. Spalding challenges America’s criminal justice system by singing, “How can we call our home, the land of the free/Till we’ve untied the praying hands/Of every innocent woman and man.”
If the Chamber Music Society was Spalding’s gateway to musical stardom, the Radio Music Society enhanced his power as an artist. Upon release, the album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Jazz chart. Overseas, Radio Music Society landed in the Top 40 in Japan and European countries. The album was also widely acclaimed by critics around the world, garnering praise from Spiegel in Germany, The Guardian in Britain and Rolling Stone, who declared Spalding to be “a dazzling player”.
AllMusic praised the album as “one of enormous ambition [with] polished production, sophisticated and busy track records and elegant songwriting”, while All About Jazz hailed Spalding as “the unofficial ambassador of contemporary jazz”, adding that she “brings a new exuberance marked by a talent prodigious; honoring those who paved the way, while seeking to pursue its own path. The following year, at the 55th Annual GRAMMYs, Spalding was also celebrated by her peers, winning Best Jazz Vocal Album.
In the decade since Radio Music Society, Spalding has continued his musical journey, releasing four more albums along the way, including Emily’s D+ Evolution (2016) and GRAMMY-winning 12 Little Spells (2018). , both at the top of the Billboard Jazz. chart. Spalding’s latest project, 2021’s Songwrights Apothecary Lab, examines the healing properties of music. Self-described as “part songwriting workshop and part guided research hands-on,” the intriguing track won Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs.
Click here to pre-order or pre-record Radio Music Society on 180 gram vinyl or hi-res digital audio.