Gregory Porter has quickly become one of the rising stars of the jazz world. After two independent albums, his 2013 debut for the legendary jazz label Blue Note, entitled "Liquid Spirit," won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Yet for a while, Porter thought his future was on the gridiron.
"I didn't consider singing as a career until a shoulder injury laid me low," Porter said. "I was on a football scholarship at San Diego State University. I tried to rehab and get back into action, but it wouldn't heal ? I was devastated but my mother was thrilled, knowing I would get a scholarship without the risk of getting hit in the head."
Even while he focused on football, music was always in Porter's blood. His mother was active in their church and he was raised on gospel. He was also deeply influenced by his mother's Nat King Cole albums.
Today, Porter sees himself as keeping the tradition of classic jazz and soul music alive, a subject he tackles in one of "Liquid Spirit's" standout tracks, "Musical Genocide."
"What I'm thinking of there is that '70s music of Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield," he said. "They always made music that had an upward vision. They talked about expanding your mind.
"If that music doesn't continue to exist, be cultivated and continue to be played and written," Porter says, "then there is a genocide of a style, sound and feeling."