About Gregory Porter
With his signature Kangol hats and luxuriant baritone, Gregory Porter has become one of the 21st century’s most renowned jazz and soul vocalists. Born in Los Angeles in 1971, he grew up in Bakersfield, CA—a town best known for its agriculture, oil wells, and country music. (Some of his schoolmates were a little nu-metal band called Korn.) But Porter was raised on his mother’s collection of jazz, soul, and gospel records; as a kid, he learned to do an uncanny imitation of Nat “King” Cole, and his mother prophesied that he’d perform in the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall one day. (She was right.) Yet Porter believed his future lay with football until a college injury sidelined him. That shift, coupled with his mother’s death when he was just 21, sent him in a new direction: He moved to Brooklyn and began performing in jazz nightclubs. In 2010 he released his debut album, Water, a restrained, soulful mix of originals and covers that revealed his honeyed voice and impeccable taste—and earned him a Grammy nomination. His songwriting became more assured on the 2012 follow-up, Be Good, with tracks like the soulful story song “Real Good Hands” picking up where songwriters like Bill Withers had left off. In 2013, he released Liquid Spirit, which featured the emotional “Dear Laura,” and won a Grammy; he repeated the trick with his 2016 album Take Me to the Alley. Whether he’s covering his hero Nat “King” Cole, writing songs of love and protest on 2020’s All Rise, or collaborating with the electronic act Disclosure on the hit dance track “Holding On,” Porter maintains his soulful center of gravity.
BORNNovember 4, 1971