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Esperanza Spalding

For the last slot we really wanted to switch things up. Not only is Esperanza Spalding the only woman on this list — which probably says more about music's male bias than any lack of talent from female bassists — but she's also almost completely outside the rock, funk, and R&B circles the other artists on this list are immersed in. Instead, Spalding has made her name as one of jazz's newest lights, largely because she's managed to transcend the usually solid barrier around jazz as a niche genre and break into the mainstream. In 2011, she became the first jazz artist to win a Best New Artist Grammy, and since then, she's proven the committee voters right by showcasing a wide ranging versatility, playing both the electric and stand up bass. Oh yeah, and singing beautifully as well. You may not think you'll like Spalding's music, but give her a try, and you may just find your bass horizons expanded.

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