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If you haven’t heard of Gregory Porter, allow us to introduce you to the Grammy Award-winning  jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actor.

Raised in Bakersfield, California, Porter’s is a product of a single parent home where he was one of eight children reared by his mother.

Growing up in California, Porter and his brother had a few run ins with a very active Klu Klux Klan.

“It was intense,” he says simply. “But my mother protected us and shielded us from that – psychologically as well. But at the same time we still had cool friends, basketball games and summer league. So there were two kinds of worlds going on.”

After graduating from Highland High School in 1989, he received a full-ride athletic scholarship to San Diego State University, but a shoulder injury ended his dreams of playing football.

Fast forward to his debut CD, Water in May of 2010, and has since racked up a continuing stream of amazing accolades and awards. He even won a Grammy for best jazz vocal album, Liquid Spirit in 2014.

This month he makes music history as he breaks into the Top 10 of the Official UK Album Chart with The Most Streamed Jazz Album of All Time: ‘Liquid Spirit’.

No wonder The New York Times describes him as “a jazz singer of thrilling presence, a booming baritone with a gift for earthy refinement and soaring uplift” in its review of Liquid Spirit.

Here are three little known facts about the accomplished singer.

  1. He is rarely seen without his signature flat cap and has referred to it as both a security blanket and his “jazz hat”. In a 2012 interview  he explained why he started wearing it: “I’ve had some surgery on my skin, so this has been my look for a little while and will continue to be for awhile longer.
  2. His biggest inspiration is Nat King Cole: “I became obsessed with Nat King Cole,” he told the Scotsman in April. “I was using his music and his style, and even the images from his records, to satiate me in some way, in some absence that I had, in terms of a father figure.
  3. He was one of the original Broadway cast of It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, a musical revue tracing the history of blues music, which opened in New York in 1999.

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(Photo Source: Gregory Porter’s Twitter)