After a few years away from recording, Spalding is back with an album called Emily's D+Evolution, inspired by a character who came to her in a dream. As she explains, Emily is her middle name — but it also represents a long-hidden part of her personality.
"Emily is a 'middle me,' that's in there but I haven't used her since I was young; she's been growing as I've been growing. And came knocking and said, 'Hey! There's some stuff I need to do right now, so you need to let me out and play,'" Spalding says. "I'm drawing on modes of expression that I haven't explored or really focused on since I was a kid: movement with the body, acting, poetry and staging. Those were aspects of performance that I was really wild about when I was little. I feel like I'm reaching back and tapping into that dormant curiosity."
Spalding spoke with NPR's Michel Martin about how life in New York City — its diversity and variety — is reflected in her work, and how it's changed now that Emily is in charge. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.