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Jazz Star Gregory Porter Reflects On His Bakersfield Roots

Jan 22, 2018

Gregory Porter is one of the brightest stars in the jazz world. Since he burst on the scene in 2010 with his critically acclaimed debut album Water, Porter has won two Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album, and is one of the most in-demand artists in the genre. His new record Nat King Cole and Me has earned him spots on NBC's Today Show and Late Night With Stephen Colbert, and soon a concert at Carnegie Hall. 

It's been a long and unusual path to fame for Porter, who grew up in Bakersfield and graduated from Highland High School in the late 1980's. He pursued a career in football at San Diego State before an injury sidelined his career. He then re-discovered his love of music, eventually moving to New York to hone his craft at jam sessions in Harlem and Brooklyn. But as Porter told us on Valley Edition, he never forgot his Bakersfield roots. The son of a storefront preacher in the Church of God In Christ, Porter says his mother's positive messages of faith and perseverance are present in many of his songs. He joined us to talk about life growing up in Bakersfield, encountering racial violence, and why he decided to move his family back to the San Joaquin Valley.