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Let Me Tell You 'Bout It: Gregory Porter on Work-Life Balance and a Return to the Road

Gregory Porter
Ami Sioux

Over the last decade, Gregory Porter has led one of the most active groups on the international jazz and soul touring circuit — routinely bringing his brand of probing and soulful songs to audiences through most of the calendar year. As the performing arts ground to a halt in 2020, he spent some meaningful time reflecting on his family and his workload.

Let Me Tell You "Bout It - Gregory Porter

"I absolutely love the road, and I love [to] travel," Porter tells me in this installment of Let Me Tell You 'Bout It. "But there's something about this career and this music that the more successful you are, the more it takes you away from the very inspirations that feed your gift. So, I'll probably make some modifications to traveling 250 dates a year. A healthy balance of both [work and time at home] is necessary."

As live performances are returning this fall, Porter will make a stop at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Sept. 24 for his only stop in the Tri-State region for the remainder of 2021. Having relocated to the West Coast a few years ago, he has fond reflections of his time living in New York, where he crystallized his unique artistry as an emotive and gifted vocalist, performer, and songwriter.

"Without those small clubs and audiences in Brooklyn and Harlem, I'm not me," Porter reveals. "The synthesis that my country-gospel-blues went through, coming through Harlem and Brooklyn, was very important. Manhattan had some special moments, too, but the meat and potatoes happened for me in Brooklyn and in Harlem."

Porter has been anything but idle during time off in the last year. He channeled his creativity into a few newer ventures, including a podcast and an online cooking series.

"What happened was that I kept being a guest on these cooking shows and interview series, and I said, 'These are great. Why don't I do one for myself?'" Porter says. "[There are] other things and stories that influence the music that are interesting to me as well."

In our chat, Porter shares his thoughts on being an ambassador for the diaspora of Black American Music, understanding the events of the last 18 months and plans for forthcoming album releases.

Greg Bryant has been a longtime curator of improvisational music. At the age of 3 in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, he was borrowing his father’s records and spinning them on his Fisher Price turntable. Taking in diverse sounds of artistry from Miles Davis, Les McCann, James Brown, Weather Report and Jimi Hendrix gave shape to Greg's musical foundation and started him on a path of nonstop exploration.