His singing crosses into more genres than that with stylings that also fuse blues and folk into his r&b and jazz renderings.
Porter is nominated for a second Grammy award for his song, “Real Good Hands” in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category.
“’Real Good Hands’ and some of the other songs on Be Good are an extension of my musical personality. I’m not calculating. I’m not trying to okay, well r&b and soul music is a little bit more popular. This is what just comes out. And quite frankly these musics are all cousins. And I’m singing the music fully feeling like a jazz singer realizing that I have the right and actually duty to use all of the language that’s in the lexicon of American music; folk, blues, gospel, all of that is supposed to be incorporated in my music. That’s the way I was raised. I was raised on gospel music.” Porter explained.
Beyonce and Anita Baker are among those nominated with Porter in the R&B category. How did he feel when he discovered he had such heavyweight competition?
“When I found that out it created laughter in me because Beyonce is just probably the biggest star on the planet and Anita Baker is the backdrop and the background music to my life for the last 25, 30 years. And so just those two lovely women, being in the same category with them, that’s an extraordinary, extraordinary thing.” Porter, standing over six feet tall with a robust frame, said with a wide infectious smile across his face.
Other gems can be found on his second album, Be Good, including the critically acclaimed song bearing the album’s name. His first Grammy nomination was in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for Water, his debut album, which was released in 2010.
Gospel music is in his blood. His mother, now passed away, was a minister who would have him sing in her church. He considered the gospel music he sang a blend of country and gospel and blues which was a representation of the people in the congregation. “Southern transplantation, people from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas and other places in the South.” That’s how he described the people where he grew up in Bakersfield, California.
Porter now resides in New York City, where he was inspired to write his snazzy jazzy song, “On My Way to Harlem.”
He’s been hard at work on a new album. He plans to include a track that will pay homage to his friends to let them know he hasn’t forgotten them. Porter realizes that his rigorous touring schedule keeps him away from them quite a bit. “For the next album I’m writing a song of apology to some of my friends because I just want to let them know that I consider them and I think about them, but I don’t see them often. I just want them to know that I’m thinking about them, considering them.”
Porter says when he’s not on the road he spends time with his wife of a year and their two month old baby. He has the lyrics of a lullaby in mind for his baby boy. In fact he was writing it before he had come down from his hotel room for his interview with me. (Watch the video to see him sing a bit of it.) He isn’t sure that the song, “Cornbread and Caviar,” will make it on the album. “It may make the album. It may not. I don’t know. It’s for me first. Right?” He declared.
The Grammy Awards will air on CBS on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific (7c).
See Tene’ talk with Gregory Porter below.
Reach Tene’ Croom at [email protected]