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Five things you didn’t know about Gregory Porter

The soulful American singer tells us why jazz makes him uncomfortable and the sleepy British town of Skegness is 'hip'

Written by
jin soo lee
1. Jazz makes him uncomfortable
‘I would say to people, “I’m a jazz singer,” and they’d be like, “Oh… okay… jazz. My grandfather likes that,” but they didn’t really know what it is. It’s the music that’s alive and that—at its best—is current in subject matter and political thought. If something makes you uncomfortable in jazz, well it’s supposed to – that’s the definition.’

2. ‘Liquid Spirit’—it’s not an alcohol ad slogan
‘I mean, come on, it could be a beer commercial right? The point I’m making is about music. Music, culture, soul, love and energy. The way the water is, it goes to the point of least resistance. If it’s not dammed, if it’s not banked and redirected, it’ll go straight down to where it’s supposed to go.’

3. He owes his career to a musical church and a pushy mother
‘In Bakersfield, California, where I grew up, the church had these wooden pews that gave you splinters. You’d bring a pillow from home, but there’d still be mosquitoes eating your ass. My mother would be like, “My sons are going to get up and do these songs.” And that was it. You didn’t have a choice, you just did it. I’m thankful though: that’s why I have a job.’

4. He loves London food
‘I get something stuck in my head, like I’ve got to have London fish and chips. I was crazy about the British breakfast for about two months, and then I was like, “Okay, what is this black pudding stuff?”’

5. But he also likes life outside the capital
‘Places I think are hip—which sometimes people here don’t think are hip – are the beachside holiday places like Skegness and Basingstoke [sic]. In the summer they’re packed with working class people, and I feel like we gotta get our ass to the beach too. There’s a song there.’

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