In a wide-ranging interview, Porter talks about the making of his new album, the state of jazz in 2020, his feelings about the word ‘urban’, his acclaimed podcast, why labels shouldn’t overlook older artists and also how his new songs have given him strength in the aftermath of losing his brother to the coronavirus.
“The music that I just made is helping me heal,” Porter told Music Week. “I didn’t know it would be a balm for this pain, but it is.”
All Rise is due to finally arrive on August 28 via Decca/Blue Note, having been pushed back from its original April release owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here in an unread portion of our cover feature, Decca co-MD Laura Monks takes us further inside Porter’s return…
What was your impression of All Rise the first time you heard it?
“I remember travelling to Paris to listen to the first demos of this album with Gregory and producer Troy Miller. Gregory has an iconic voice so I knew I would love the album, and have always enjoyed walking into rooms to a chorus of, ‘Hey Laura!’, but was more than excited by the range of the songs and the heart and soul Gregory had clearly poured into them. This album has plenty of classic soulful ballads which sit happily alongside its lead single and official banger Revival – all with the trademark sense of uplifting optimism and hope. Troy has added an energy to these tracks in particular that give them a contemporary edge.”
Release date and live shows aside, what tangible impact did the coronavirus pandemic have on the other campaign plans?
“To be honest the best part of working on Gregory Porter’s albums is spending time with the man himself! We had hoped to have plenty of time with Gregory here in person for fan meet and greets, small shows and further face-to-face recording of Gregory’s podcast The Hang with some of his UK-based friends. Gregory has a magnetism about him and exudes positivity. He has a way of making people feel uplifted after they have met him – you can try and replace that with Zoom but it’s not exactly the same.”
Do you think the album's themes of identity and race will resonate with audiences even more now in light of recent months?
“Gregory has spent his whole life writing songs, expressing his views and campaigning through his music. I very much hope people’s ears will now open to hearing what Gregory has to say. Gregory is a passionate advocate for Black Lives Matter and we will be supporting every action he will make as an artist to impact real and positive change.”
What support has his new music seen in the UK so far across radio, media and DSPs?
“We’ve had a really positive response to the first few songs and have seen a spread of support across all DSPs. The video to Revival is a must see and really helped us kick off in style. BBC Radio 2 have always been huge supporters of Gregory’s so we are happy to see that connection remain and are looking at a spread of key TVs and promo opportunity.”
Subscribers can read the full Gregory Porter cover feature here.
Photo: Paul Harries