Brooklyn jazz singer Gregory Porter intones with an old soul that belies his nascent career and youthful countenance. The hearty baritone—who names soul greats Nat King Cole, Donny Hathway, and Joe Williams as influences on his silky blend of soul, funk, and gospel—has a gift for imbuing his songs with spirit and emotion.
The California native began singing in small San Diego jazz clubs while on football scholarship (he was an outside linebacker) at San Diego State. When a shoulder injury ended Porter’s football career, he shifted to musical theater—performing in “It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues” and his semi-autobiographical one-man show “Nat King Cole and Me."
In 2009, he signed with Harlem-based label Motema Music and the following year, Porter released his debut, Water, from which he earned a Best Jazz Vocal Grammy nomination.
Download “1960 What?,” an impassioned political tune about racial strife in the 60s, from the Grammy-nominated album above and watch its video below.
Gregory Porter performs at Smoke on Thursday nights.