Ken Leighton noon, Dec. 13
RIYL: Nat King Cole
Influences: Nat King Cole, Donny Hathway, Joe Williams
Baritone jazz singer Gregory Porter developed his Nat King Cole-style delivery while attending SDSU on an Aztecs football scholarship as an outside linebacker. A shoulder injury steered him toward musical theater, including his own semi-autobiographical one-man show Nat King Cole and Me.
Local trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, tenor saxophonist Daniel Jackson, and UCSD Jazz Studies Department music professor Kamau Kenyatta encouraged Porter to pursue a full-time music career. In 2009, he signed with Harlem-based Motema Music, which released his debut full-length Water the following year.
As of 2012, Porter lives in Brooklyn, NYC. He earned a 2013 Grammy Award nomination (Best Traditional R&B Performance) for his second album Be Good and performed at the 35th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in June 2013. His 2014 album Liquid Spirit won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, as did his 2016 album Take Me to the Alley.