Esperanza Spalding Talks Natural Hair

Esperanza Spalding is a more than just the bass player from the BET Awards Prince tribute. Before she rocked the sultry “If I Was Your Girlfriend” on stage,  she was already a Jazz prodigy who released her self-titled debut album at 23 years old. The LP hit the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart for 70 weeks. She’s even friends with Prince and called Parlour to chat about natural hair care on a fuzzy international call from Finland. I first saw her a few years ago on a cold NYC night in an improv band, jamming on her upright bass. Now she’s releasing her second album Chamber Music Society today. In short, Esperanza is awesome and wants to share her hair tips with you.

PARLOUR: Your afro rocks, what products do you use?

Esperanza Spalding: These days I’ve just been using shea butter, I usually use olive oil. I don’t use any products, I wash it with some soap and rinse it off, put some olive oil on it and brush it as often as possible and I just moisturize it with shea butter and olive oil and it never seems to do me wrong.

Do you really just use whatever soap is around? Sportie told us that Steeler Troy Pomalalu does that too…

I’m usually out touring too long to carry a bottle of shampoo, so I just buy natural soaps when I’m out. They seem to last longer, it’s all advertising anyway. Most shampoos are made from the same ingredients as soap so its not really about washing my hair, the idea is to clean my scalp. So I usually use a soap that’s olive oil-based or natural oil-based and that’s it. But I haven’t treated my hair ever, so it’s just natural so it doesn’t get too dry and it’s easy to maintain. I think you’d have to use a lot of products if your hair is damaged, but if you don’t relax or dye it, your hair will talk pretty good care of itself as long as you moisturize it.

Because we enjoyed it immensely, here’s Esperanza’s performance of “If I Was Your Girlfriend” (my fave Prince song barring “Adore” and “I’m A Star”) below, along with Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys and Patti LaBelle.

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