On the heels of vocalist Gregory Porter’s latest release “Take Me to the Alley,” a new documentary project on his life is being released.
The “Gregory Porter: Don’t Forget Your Music” documentary examine Porter’s life and career, an event that humbled Porter.
Jazz musician Gregory Porter is the subject of the documentary
“Gregory Porter: Don’t Forget Your Music.” (Courtesy Photo)
“Many people come up to me in tears. Music is important in people’s lives. When I put it out there I don’t know what its unintended or intended consequences are going to be. You are there at the moment of birth, death, break-up or love connection, you become a soundtrack to their lives,” Porter told the AFRO. “I think maybe what I’m doing is what people actually want to hear. There are some people who want that liquid spirit — a soulful, thoughtful sound — and they haven’t been getting it.”
Porter’s deep baritone offers the slightest touch of vulnerability, and lends itself to Porter as the consummate storyteller, the soothsayer channeling our deepest fears, loves, hurts, and passions over the airwaves.
“When I listen to Gregory Porter, I know that someone in the music business is still focused on good music rather than trends,” Porter fan and Washington, D.C. resident Howard Goldstone told the AFRO. “His music is honest and pure of sound – meaning he sounds the same live as he does through headphones. He has no gimmicks, just a clean and powerful sound.”
“Take Me to the Alley,” pairs Porter with artists Kem on the track “Holding On,” and Lalah Hathaway on the track “Insanity.”
“I firmly consider myself a jazz singer but I enjoy blues, southern soul, and gospel. Those elements make their way inside my music. And I’ve always heard them in jazz,” Porter said.
And while the comparisons to music masters like Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, and Lou Rawls may cause Porter some discomfort, he said he believes there is a level of camaraderie in his relation to these artists.
“We’re cousins, in a way, in that we had some church upbringing, some Southern influence, strong mothers, an understanding of gospel blues. So, I welcome it, and those were masters in the music and I’m very glad that my name gets mentioned with those masters. I have some writing to do and I have some singing to do before I really deserve it, but I’m blessed to be mentioned with those names,” Porter said.
He said his work was inspired by his mother, who was a minister and her soul-filled prayers amid rising racial hostilities when the family moved from the South to Bakersfield, Calif. – a move that included having a cross burned on the family’s lawn.
“There were great ups and downs. You come into a situation where you are a bit of an Other,” he said. “Imagine a Black family with eight kids moving into a neighborhood and the growing pains of that and getting called names.”
“My mother and grandfather (also a minister) would walk through our house praying all day long and sometimes it took on the sound of song, other times it was a rhythmic cadence of unending hums, shouts, melodies, and moans,” he said. All of these elements are present in Porter’s work.
“It was important to have that level of uplift in the music because there are people who want it,” he said. “They’re the people down the way that’s thirsty, and I may be part of that liquid spirit. There are a whole bunch of musicians and artists that want to flow in the most natural way to those people that are thirsty down the way. We have gifts to give, but no place for those gifts to live.”
“Take Me to the Alley” is available now. The documentary is available for pre-order at gregoryporter.com and will be available in stores soon.