By the end of 2012, with his second CD, Be Good, having earned a Grammy®- nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance, the buzz for Gregory Porter had built to a roar, with the incredible accolades showered on Porter showing no sign of decreasing either in volume or enthusiasm. As the year drew to a close, Porter’s music topped an extraordinary number of “Best of 2012” lists in the US and the UK, including NPR’s “Best Music of 2012” and “100 Favorite Songs of 2012”; iTunes “Jazz Album of the Year”; and Soul Train’s “Top 10 Albums of 2012”. Be Good was also named Soul Tracks’ “Album of the Year.”
In the ten months since its release, Be Good ranked up an impressive showing on both US and international charts. In Billboard, the album reached #6 on the Jazz Album chart and #12 on the Heatseekers chart.
Be Good’s US chart success is mirrored around the globe. In the UK, it reached #2 on the Indie Album Breaker chart and #15 on the Official Indie Album Chart. In Germany, Be Good’s chart position is even more impressive, clocking in at #1 on Amazon’s jazz chart (and #20 on Amazon’s overall chart) for digital sales, #10 on the Amazon’s jazz chart for CD sales, and at #5 on the iTunes jazz chart (with Water sitting in the #10 slot on that chart at the same time.) In addition to its debut at #1 on the US iTunes chart, Be Good soared to the top slot on iTunes Jazz album chart in the UK and Norway and to #10 on Norway’s iTunes Top Album chart.
The international success of Be Good, supported by extensive touring throughout Europe resulted in the album being honored with an Edison Award, the Dutch equivalent of a Grammy®.
The year also found Porter gracing the cover of numerous magazines, including Jazz Inside, and France’s Jazz Magazine and L’Express, which lauded him as ”the next great voice in Jazz.” In its recent cover feature, the UK’s Jazz Wise Magazine, extolled his talents, stating, “On Be Good, Porter has crafted a work that not only meets, but seems to be primed to surpass, the heightened expectations of the jazz and soul audiences eagerly awaiting his follow up to Water. Featuring Porter’s winning combination of “outstanding original songs, erudite lyrics and social comment, top drawer musicianship and improvisation, and a voice to die for.”
A disarmingly sincere performer, with a groove that never quits, a voice of incredible virtuosity and a seemingly universal appeal as a songwriter, Porter’s lyrics often speak as dreams do, in the languages of image and emotion, to communicate thoroughly though not always directly. His objective as a songwriter, he says, is “to create a sincere message about my feelings on love, culture, family and our human joys and pain.” Even in conversation he leans toward the poetic: “Just like the song ‘Painted on Canvas’ says, ‘I’m ‘made of the pigment of paint that is put upon’ …trying to be honest and organic in my colors that I show.” Be Good clearly attains that goal, and also proves to have a wide palette of colors to show.
Some critics are inspired to comment on Porter as a new “king’ of jazz,” and a “leader of the pack,” a performer of extraordinary presence who has been compared with the greatest of the greats, such as Joe Williams, Nat Cole, Donny Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye. As musically solid as his recordings are and as powerful and honest as Porter’s magnificent voice is, it may just well be the brilliance of his poetry and the unguarded depth of his emotional delivery that is most fueling his rapid rise to fame.
Porter is quick to point out that he is more painter than photographer. “My songs may start from a place of personal experience,” he explains, but he uses his poetic license freely. “I try not to impose any particular perspective on the music. I want listeners to be affected each in his or her own way, and moved as much by what can be read in between the lines as what the lyrics say.”