Gregory Porter was born in Los Angeles but was raised in Bakersfield, listening to his mother’s records of Nat King Cole which inspired him to begin singing. He attended San Diego State University on a sports scholarship but had to retire from sport due to a shoulder injury. Instead he turned to music and began singing in local jazz clubs and appearing in theatre productions. It was in a local jazz club that he met pianist Kamau Kenyatta who became Porter's mentor. Kenyatta then introduced him to Hubert Laws, who asked Porter to appear as a guest on his album Hubert Laws' Remembers the Unforgettable Nat King Cole where he sang on the final track, the Charlie Chaplin tune Smile. Whilst in the recording studio, Laws' sister heard Porter sing and, impressed with his singing, helped him get a part in the musical It Ain't Nothing But the Blues.
For the next decade, Gregory Porter worked persistently at his craft, performing in pubs and clubs and in the theatre, and developed a loyal fan base. He released his debut album, Water, in 2010 at the age of 39. The album contained the groovy tune Pretty, the politically charged 1960 What? and versions of jazz standards Skylark and But Beautiful. The album was critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic and was nominated for a Grammy award.
After touring and performing around the world, including sell-out appearances at Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, he recorded his second album in 2012, entitled Be Good. This featured more of his own original compositions and the title track of the album was released with an accompanying music video and was also nominated for a Grammy award.
In 2013 he signed to Blue Note Records and toured Europe, including an appearance at the very first Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Sussex (he is one of the few artists to have performed at both the 2013 and 2014 Love Supreme festivals). He then released his third album, Liquid Spirit, which was critically acclaimed and earned him his first Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Last year he was one of the guest vocalists on David Murray’s album Be My Monster Love and this year he is a guest vocalist on Jamie Cullum’s latest album, Interlude.
The music video for his latest single The In-Crowd was filmed in London (you might recognise Granville Arcade in Brixton Village).
Gregory Porter recently appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in the results show, with Jamie Cullum, singing the single Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. The single, from Jamie Cullum’s album Interlude, has been playlisted on Radio 2.
Gregory Porter appears at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Wednesday 12th November. Tickets available here.
For more information on Gregory Porter: www.gregoryporter.com