GREGORY Porter insists he will put his stamp on a performance paying tribute to the music of George Gershwin at
GREGORY Porter insists he will put his stamp on a performance paying tribute to the music of George Gershwin at this year’s Henley Festival.
The Grammy award–winning jazz vocalist will be part of an ensemble for Who Got Rhythm?! A Gershwin Spectacular on the Friday night, July 10.
But he said: “Because this is an ensemble piece everybody has a small part. I can’t help but express myself musically when I step to the microphone.
“I become a musical personality in the context of a larger picture, so it’s not exactly the Gregory Porter show.”
Asked why he had taken the gig, he joked: “They blackmailed me — they had pictures of me!
“I’m excited about it. A festival has a legend that exists before the artist comes and people say ‘Oh, you’re coming to Henley?’ I don’t know what the ‘Oh’ is about!
“They invited myself and Laura Mvula to be the vocal expressions.”
The pair will perform with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the tribute show.
Porter explained: “Laura Mvula was definitely a plus and the orchestra — I love working with orchestras. That sound and the power behind you is like riding on a wave. It’s powerful yet terrifying at the same time.
“I love her voice and she’s a great person as well. We have become friends and it’s a very comfortable environment being around her.”
Their performance will see the pair reunite after they collaborated on Water Under Bridges, a bonus track on Liquid Spirit, which scooped the 2014 Grammy for best jazz vocal album.
“I’m influenced by the things that came before me — I’m experiencing life and music as it comes to me,” Porter continued.
“I often think about my son when I think about the future in my writing. My writing generally takes place when I’m in movement — when I’m on trains and planes or in cars — so the fact that I’m moving around a lot is probably good for my writing.
“Both positive and negative experiences from people — gracious and graceful people — inspire me, but also somebody who has a negative outlook, who is maybe a bully or a selfish person. Those things inspire me to say something.”
It promises to be a packed year for Porter after his meteoric ascent in 2014 took him from jazz clubs to primetime TV.
He has already played at the VE Day 70th anniversary concert in London and will perform at Glastonbury for the first time in June, followed by the V Festival in August.
Liquid Spirit, his third album, which also sees Porter collaborate with Jamie Cullum, was released in 2013 and has become a huge hit worldwide. He said: “The word–of–mouth quality of this record, and even my first two, is a positive thing in a way.
“When you say the people are thirsty — they want something. And I know that people are thirsting for something musical. And they come to me after a concert and say ‘Where you been?’
“And sometimes I think they don’t even mean me — it’s a feeling they get inside once they hear something I’ve done.”
“But one thing I’ve realised is that with all three of these records [I’ve done] I don’t shy away from uncomfortable or painful situations in my life. So that’s the emotions that that brings.”