Grammy-winning singing sensation Gregory Porter – one of the most successful jazz artists of his
generation – is back with a new album, ‘Nat King Cole & Me’, to be released on Decca/Blue Note on 27th October. It is a deeply personal tribute to Nat King Cole – the legendary crooner who ignited Gregory’s love of music. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” he says.
Recorded at London’s AIR Studios, the 12-track album features some of Gregory’s favourite Nat King Cole tunes including ‘Smile’, ‘L-O-V-E’ and ‘Nature Boy’. There is also a Nat-inspired arrangement of Gregory’s own song ‘When Love Was King’, originally released on his million-selling hit album, ‘Liquid Spirit’.
For Gregory Porter, the influence of Nat King Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories, and culminates in the release of his new album ‘Nat King Cole & Me’. Gregory explains, “At five or six years old, Nat’s music filled a void in me.
My father wasn’t in my life and wasn’t showing interest in me or raising me and Nat’s words were the life lessons, words of wisdom and fatherly advice I needed.”
Gregory’s love for Nat’s music blossomed so much that he wrote a semi-autobiographical musical, also called ‘Nat King Cole & Me’, which premiered in 2004. “After the play, I felt a lighter feeling about my father and a deeper appreciation for both my mother and the great music of Nat King Cole,” says Gregory. He also found his voice through his own songwriting – “It wasn’t until I wrote the musical that I was fit to call myself a songwriter. Before that, I would write different poems but they had no music.”
‘Nat King Cole & Me’ is the follow-up to his Grammy-winning albums ‘Liquid Spirit’ (2013) and ‘Take Me to the Alley’ (2016). ‘Liquid Spirit’ took Gregory from being the biggest name on the jazz scene to being one of the most sought-after singers around today, performing sell-out shows across the UK and being invited to perform on high profile TV programmes including The Graham Norton Show, Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Music Awards. He has become an adopted national treasure in the UK, having sung for the Queen multiple times, as well as major music festivals including Glastonbury, where he performed on the Pyramid Stage alongside the likes of Muse, Adele and Coldplay. Gregory’s ability to transcend genres even extends to his surprise dance hit ‘Liquid Spirit Claptone Remix’ which became one of the most popular tracks in Ibiza.
After winning over audiences with his rich and soulful voice, there can be no better time for Gregory to return to the music which first inspired him to become a singer. On Nat’s legacy and influence Gregory affirms, “He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool.”
1. Mona Lisa
3. Nature Boy
4. L-O-V-E5. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
6. Miss Otis Regrets
7. Pick Yourself Up
8. When Love Was King (arrangement of an original Gregory Porter composition from Liquid Spirit)
9. The Lonely One
11. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is
12. The Christmas Song
Blue Note CD: 6704314 LP: 5791499