Esperanza Spalding Dazzles With Oscar Performance

Singer who beat Justin Bieber at 2011 Grammys sings moving version of ‘What a Wonderful World’ during In Memoriam tribute.
By Jason Kaufman
Esperanza Spalding performs at the 84th annual Academy Awards
Photo: Kevin Winter/ Getty Images Who was that woman singing that beautiful rendition of “What a Wonderful World” during the 2012 Oscars In Memoriam tribute? None other than the woman who broke Justin Bieber’s heart last winter: Esperanza Spalding. Last year, Spalding beat out sure bets like Bieber, Florence and the Machine and Drake when she won the Best New Artist prize at the 2011 Grammy Awards. Spalding’s biggest claim to fame since the win had been when her Wikipedia page was attacked by rabid Bieber fans following her victory. Since last February, Spalding has managed to fly under the radar. This March she plans to get back on the scene and release her new album, Radio Music Society, her follow-up to Chamber Music Society, the 2010 album that brought her to national attention at the Grammys last year. But before that came a haunting showcase. Spalding’s beautiful take on the Louis Armstrong standard was the perfect accompaniment to a moving In Memoriam tribute. Spalding stood in front of a choir as her voice lifted in the Kodak Theatre while the names and faces of Hollywood legends lost were projected in stark black and white behind her. It was a performance that allowed millions to see what Grammy voters had already seen in her last year. Spalding’s Grammy victory was particularly hard on Bieber, who spoke to MTV News shortly after the loss. “I had no clue what was going to happen; I worked really hard these past few years, and you know, I’m not going to lie — I was disappointed,” Bieber told MTV News at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last year. “But, you know, I’m gonna come back [next year] and we’ll take a few home. … I’m inspired to work harder than I did last year. It’s going to be hard, but I’m going to try.” The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Keep it locked at all night and beyond for updates on the night’s big winners and the best red-carpet fashion. Join the live conversation by tweeting @MTVNews with the hashtag #Oscars.

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