Esperanza Spalding

“We got to support our artists and celebrate their work, and do our part to ensure that the American creative spirit that has defined us from the very beginning will thrive for generations to come.” —President Obama

Before taking the stage at the White House with the likes of Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Smokey Robinson, Trombone Shorty, James Taylor and more, Esperanza Spalding takes us backstage for a preview of her performance. Don’t miss out on the premiere of “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of American Creativity” January 8 at 9pm ET on PBS.

Esperanza Spalding performs onstage as HISTORY presents NYC music festival “Rhythm & Roots” in celebration of the Network’s Epic Event Series ROOTS Featuring Esperanza Spalding on May 25, 2016 in New York City
Janelle Monae: 'It's True. I Am Part-Android'

Guardian: You told Fuse magazine that The Electric Lady was “clearly the best album that came out of 2013 from a musical standpoint”. Is there too much false humility in pop?

Janelle Monae: Oh, I meant that. And it’s still the best.

Guardian: A lot of people agreed with you. But would you have thought it anyway?

Janelle Monae: Yeah. I grew up listening to artists where the album mattered, and when I say that I mean that the musicality needed to be top, state-of-the-art, the singing had to be state-of-the-art, the packaging - everything needed to be right. And those are the rules that I play by, and I take pride in it. We worked very hard, and we put thought into it. We tried to figure out: “How can we make something that 20 years or 30 years from now, androids can be dancing to as well as humans? How can we make something that’s culturally important? How can we uplift the community and keep the community jamming at the same time?” The balancing that was able to be established, the collaborations … I mean, Erykah Badu? Esperanza Spalding, Solange Knowles, Miguel – and Prince? Nobody has Prince on their album – period. If it wasn’t my album I’d listen to it and all these features and the music and I’d be really, really jealous. I’d be like: “Damn, why didn’t I make that album?”