LPR presents Gregory Porter w/ Chris Turner and Jennah Bell
Friday, February 14
Town Hall, New York NY
Raised in California, Porter’s mother was a minister, and he cites the Bakersfield Southern Gospel sound, as well as his mother’s Nat King Cole record collection, as fundamental influences on his own sound. Porter began singing in small jazz clubs in San Diego while attending San Diego State University on a football scholarship, where he played outside linebacker. Eventually it was music that Porter chose to pursue full-time at the encouragement of local musicians including his mentor Kamau Kenyatta.
Kenyatta invited Porter to visit him in the studio in Los Angeles, where he was producing flutist Hubert Laws’ album Remembers the Unforgettable Nat King Cole. When Laws overheard Porter singing along while he was tracking the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile,” he was so impressed with the young singer that he decided to include Porter on the album.
Another fortunate twist of fate was the presence that day of Laws’ sister, Eloise, a singer who was soon to join the cast of a new musical theater production It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. Porter had minimal theatrical experience but was cast in one of the show’s lead roles when the play opened in Denver, and he eventually followed it to Off-Broadway and then Broadway, where The New York Times, in its 1999 rave review, mentioned Porter among the show’s “powerhouse line up of singers.” It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues went on to earn both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations that year. Porter eventually put down roots in Brooklyn, and in 2010 released his debut album Water (Motéma Music), which earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. His sophomore album Be Good (Motéma Music) followed in 2012 and earned him his second GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Despite having now recorded or shared the stage with the likes of Van Morrison, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Nicola Conte, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron, Buster Williams and David Murray, Porter remains grounded and humbled by all the new accolades. “Sometimes I haven’t had a chance to absorb and enjoy some of the audiences that I’ve been in front of, especially some of the icons of the music like Wynton and Herbie,” Porter says, “And they give me so much open-arm love; I couldn’t fathom that two years ago.” With the release of Liquid Spirit, Porter’s soaring career will surely ascend even higher.
This classically trained crooner deftly combines streams of jazz, hip-hop, funk, and soul in his music; he’s as comfortable with falsetto and scatting as he is with laying down smooth and creative phrasings. Growing up in Oakland, Chris Turner knew at the age of four that he wanted to be a singer just like his father.
Chris graduated from the New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music. There he met his future band mates who form the band ERIMAJ, Chris serves as the lead vocalist, the New York Times describes the band as “properly new, part of something larger and still unnamed”. He tours with Bilal Oliver and has also toured with Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, and Sean Kingston.
Lately, Chris has performed and been interviewed on BET’s '106 & Park' as a Music Matters artist to watch. His first single, “Liquid Love,” has been causing a stir on the Internet and radio programs such as BBC Radio with Gilles Peterson. Most recently, he has had the privilege of contributing background vocals for Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society album and current tour!
Hailing from the Bay Area in Northern California, Jennah Bell’s style incorporates her unique and diverse upbringing. Music became a very serious career choice when she was blessed with the opportunity to attend a wonderful summer program affiliated with the Grammy Foundation. A competitive audition process placed her as one of 11 singer/songwriters from around the U.S. Her peers, elders, and music business professionals (Paul Williams, Jimmy Jam, INXS, David Foster) embraced her unorthodox writing style, alternative/folk/soul song melodies, and endearing honest vocals. This gave her the courage and motivation she needed to apply to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. She has had the privilege and honor to sit down with Paul Simon and work on some of her original tunes this past year and became part of some very special music project called Making Music Herstory.