Porter to perform with Minnesota Orchestra: Gregory Porter gets personal with new album; covers of Nat ‘King’ Cole

There is an abundance of research showing the correlation between music and healing, but oftentimes the research is devoted to the listener, without regard for the healing the artist may need. 

While Gregory Porter’s “Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me” is an auditory gem for the listener, the primary audience is Porter himself. The 15-track album – all but one, covers of Cole classics – is a therapeutic release for Porter, who said the album is an expression of his wanting for love from his biological father, who has passed away. Porter, a two-time Grammy winning jazz vocalist, said in the absence of his father he adopted Cole as his dad.

“Nat’s music is very important to me. After I lost my father I used to view Nat as a father,” said Porter. “Although (‘Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me’) is mostly covers, it’s really a part of me. It’s the sound and environment of my childhood. The underlying message is really me searching for my father.”

Titles on the new album such as “I Wonder Who My Daddy Is” demonstrate how personal the project is to Porter. Before “Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me” was an album it was a 2004 theatrical musical produced and starring Porter. The vocalist said the play, and now the album, are a part of his therapy in coping with the absence of his father.

“My father passed away when I was 20. I was 30 when I wrote the musical and I’m still exercising that feeling,” said Porter, a cast member of “It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues,” the 1999 Tony Award-winning musical. “In many ways this album is my father’s apology to me.”

Porter will be in Minneapolis singing songs from “Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me” and others from his repertoire when he performs Dec. 1 at the Minnesota Orchestra with members of the orchestra. The 8 p.m. show will be under the direction of conductor and arranger Vince Mendoza and will feature Chip Crawford on piano.

Tickets are $41-$110 and are on sale online at www.minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling (612) 371-5600. The Minnesota Orchestra is located at 1111 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

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