Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Gregory Porter: Return Of The Cool

Gregory Porter interview
Gregory Porter interview Gregory Porter interview Gregory Porter interview Gregory Porter interview

Hitting the top of the charts once more with his latest album ”All Rise" and another gushing 5 star review from B&S to boot, double Grammy winning jazz superstar Gregory Porter spoke to Blues & Soul’s Chaz Brooks about his new album, the loss of his brother, his career break, Porter's fantasy band lineup and love for the UK. Plus, thoughts on lockdown, racism and the respect that lead the artist to write a song about Jools Holland.

Firstly, can you tell me about the new album?

The [recording] process was an enjoyable one but also taxing. We were in Los Angeles, Paris and London at Abbey Road and some small stuff at my producer Troy Miller's place. The creative process was very, very fun to do. The process of writing the songs takes longer. I'm pulling from life experience. But yeah, really an enjoyable process to make the recording.

This is an optimistic record but the funny thing, and this is a bit strange, is that it started off with a song about death and I couldn't understand what was happening. I was in London. I think about it now and think I was probably writing a song for my brother but I didn't know it. The song was called "Remember Me When I'm Gone". Something happened. There was a commotion in the studio… I stopped doing the song and I said, okay, I’ll come back to it later but I never finished the song, it never got on the record, but [I said to myself] I will record it at some point. My brother has since passed away. I'm not saying that I'm a prophet or that I can see into the future. I just had this undying desire to put my feelings about my loved ones on the record, to document this rough cut stone I couldn't polish myself which had to be done by someone else. I'm speaking about my brother. He told me from an early age that my voice was special and that people should see me, that they will hear me and I'll be successful. He believed before I believed, and he was there to help. He produced, I think, my first four music videos. He was there from the beginning and really helped me to get to where I am. He's a big, big, big loss and yes he's on the record. The record is a tribute to him but I didn't know that before.

My brother died from COVID, aged 49. My sister, it was bad, she was battling breast cancer. We've had a rough time. It goes in chunks, doesn't it? You know the funny thing but the thing that is true, is I've been listening to what I say. My mother's in that music, my brother's in that music, my sister's in the music that I've made. And so I have a narcissistic way but, in looking for them, I've used my music as a solace for this pain. I hope the governments around the world are working on it because I'm not sure what my government is doing. Hopefully, somebody comes up with a cure.

How do you look after your voice?

The only thing that stops me is a really hardcore cold, flu. I've always recovered well. I think the most I've had is, you know, maybe 13 or 14 back to back shows. There's something about my voice I thank my mother and father for, who didn't teach me how to sing, but for my genetics for my voice being able to recover quickly.

I don't drink too hard, I have a cocktail and enjoy a whisky every now and then, and wine with my steak but nothing to an extreme degree. And rest, cumulative rest, because sometimes the show ends and by the time you get back to your hotel it's 2am and you leave for your flight at five. There's cumulative rest happening at three hours here, four hours on the plane and a couple of hours back in the hotel, then you're ready to go. This is how I've done it for over ten years now.

The album “All Rise” is out now on Blue Note Records.

You can read more from Chaz Brooks exclusive interview with jazz superstar, Gregory Porter, including more on his new album, how he writes songs, the story behind his career break, who would be in his fantasy band lineup, his love for the UK, plus, what he was doing in lockdown, his thoughts on racism, writing a song about Jools Holland and a song influencing Sam Smith fact that nobody knows! All in the latest issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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