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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 4, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with gregory porter whose classic sound has critics praising him for carrying on the tradition of marvin gaye. and also asd spirit a song writer in his own right. conversation with gregory porter coming up right now.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: gregory porter had intended to be a linebacker but an injury found him course correcting to music, a decision that is be paying some pretty ne dividends. his cd is titled "liquid spirit." let's take a look at a cut.
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♪ tavis: i was saying to gregory that it took me about two weeks to get to track five. it took me a couple weeks to get there because i could not get off of track number one. , and thisnds of mine doesn't happen all the time, they called me and messaged me and said there is a brother named gregory porter who you must have on your show.
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you have a bunch of fans that are friends of mine that you don't even know. you have got to get him. you have got to hear the song. in search of it and i am delighted to have you on the program. tell me about this first track. it is powerful. for me, i am trying to put , and i am trying to grab pieces that are poetry to put in the song. it is like an old man on the house that says there will be no trouble around here.
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the symbols and these things in violenceof love like and dishonesty. the will of love is powerful. there will be no love that's dying here. powerful, man. but it is notsay always easy to practice. >> the thing about me writing and putting music together, people think it is really clever. how did you make those connections.
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if you really just think about your life. take my last record. me.ife's father called what are your intentions with my daughter? it shook me up. my intentions were to marry her. fret and don't forget that one day you were in my shoes. you have paid your dues and the picture of a man i som someday want to be. think about what it is you want to say. the song right itself sometimes. tavis: i will get back to the record in a second. what about the fact you can put out a couple of albums, the
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adage of overnight success. you have been at this for a while. something is clicking on this thing and on all cylinders that is getting you discovered. there is a pent-up energy. let the dammed water be. exactly talking about myself, but i am talking about music and a soulful expression. there are people that want that music. there are people down the way that is thirsty.
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there are artists that want to flow in the most natural way. we have gifts to give and no place for those gifts to live. what happens when people discover you, we have, as worldasters, we live in a where the comparisons are hard to process. the person that i have said to friends of mine, bill withers. soul, him in terms of the the sound, the styling. the lyrical content. tell me how you feel about those
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comparisons. go get this brothers record. -- how do you handle those comparisons? when they do that to a new artist or somebody that just it is ao the scene, difficult weight to carry. i had to think, and we do have some camaraderie. uphave had some church ringing and southern influence. strong mothers and an understanding of gospel blues.
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glad that my name gets mentioned. i have some writing to do and some singing to do before i deserve it, but i am blessed. i finally got past no love dying, that track hit me again so hard because there is a love and expression of it. tell me about your mom. >> my mother is a minister from shreveport, louisiana. angeles and los bakersfield, california.
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every church that she had was a mission, she was the head missionary. i am the seventh of eight kids. record was this really her in a way. the people.bout and all is well. those who toil can remember his reign. that is my mother.
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the last hour she was alive, she said, hand me my purse. herwanted to give $600 to family that could not make rent that much -- that month. the children were selfish. yourself, let's be a family. but now i think about it, how nice is it to, with your last breath, give something to somebody. all these are constantly coming up in the music. even when i don't expect them or want them to.
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i saying, i wish my mom was here. she knew how to pray. i did not write that, it just came out. her spirit and her energy. i think it might be her. a praying mama will do that for you. i have one watching in indiana, so i know something about that pentecostal tradition. i know she is watching. hi, mom. let me tweak this just a bit. how difficult has it for you to be free in your music?
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we are not getting this everyday. know that it takes a level of courage to be free and not be yourself. >> the record company for the first two records did not touch me. .hey said to do your thing when you are done, deliver the record. i had a lot of freedom and i got used to that. that somebody was going to drive up in front of my house and say, this is the man to change you. they said, the yourself. and considerky what is around you and right and saying. -- write and sing.
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whatever you come up with, we will put our label on. they are historic. american culture, black culture, jazz. it was an amazing thing for them to come and say, be you. me a sense of the kind of work you have been doing musically prior to us figuring out that gregory porter we need to be listening to. where you been? what you been doing all this time? the better part of my understanding of music was learned in bakersfield, california. churches, shed enjoyed visiting older
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with this vast and deep knowledge. nobody knows it, but they came at a time where they preserved that tradition. grew up.lues is what i ♪ bless that wonderful name ♪ jesus we're up here singing the blues. jazz --eard: train and --traine and jazz, i heard
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[humming] tavis: my grandma did the same thing. heard the similarities of the great jazz saxophone players and my grandmother. there is a connection there. learning all different types of music, watching soul train. it might be time to take this professional. scholarship,all they had time. i have been looking at it, studying it. we started going to jam sessions. you and i had an opportunity because it ain't
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nothing but the blues. the value ofed , that somebody , that is the foundation for much of american music. i was singing with these 70- year-old man when i was a kid. i was at the regular service, 3:00 service. i was a young man on my knees for an hour. at the time, i did not value it.
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educationing a unique in american music. tavis: how did you navigate? everyone of us that comes out of has a point where they have to try to figure out how they are going to navigate this journey of the spiritual and the secular. tell me about your battle. my mother simplified it for me when i was very young. i did not know it could be a career. i remember not being able to see over the dashboard. i think i might want to see about -- sing about love. god made love, so it's ok to sing about. i think i took that advice my when i sing a song
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about love, there is still an element of spirituality to it. masters of the in between spirit coming along with this message of love. understanding, the love for mankind, the love for a community. it has a great appeal to me. when you think of love, there is
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a whole bunch of ways to look at love. i was a bit surprised when i came to learn reading about you. i started calling people that everybody i know for this conversation. when i discovered you listened to nat king cole, i did not get it. you are so much more soulful in your delivery. what is the nat king cole influence? articulation, i see how that has a profound influence as a kid. you are somehow able to marry that and create your own song
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styling. i am pretty convinced now that for the rest of my life, i will know it is you. >> nat king cole is the music i listened to early on. we talked about mother and father earlier. the song that i write about with my father now, in a way, healing. probably have his voice. nat king cole, when you think
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something in that way, he should probably have his own school. all the things that you said are so unique that i borrowed some of those things. it was his record that i am listening to. my first entry into jazz, the gospel singing i was doing in church, you marry those. gentle rough sound. these things that have to go through your filter.
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they come through me. tavis: you went down and got that. that was arthur price. blue note has discovered you, the rest of us have discovered you. they are celebrating gregory porter. what do you want to do with all of this newfound fame that you now have? what journey are you going to take us on with you? this conversation in these records i have made, my second
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album are a statement of who i am. i look at my lyrica, i realize who i am. i have been consistent. that i have written have not heard the light of day. these are the things i want to say. bequeath, wealthy did so they can remember when love was king. if i have my opportunity to say something, i want to say it. there is a lot of elevation on this project.
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right. if i'm not project is called liquid spirit. they will eventually get to it. the firstis may be time you heard the name gregory porter, it certainly won't be the last. i claim that right now. good to have you. i am glad to be in it with you. until next time, thanks for watching and keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with former new york mayor david dinkins about the challenges he faced navigating big city politics.
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that is next time, we will see you then. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.
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>> the following kqed production was produced in high definition >> tonight on quest: nanotechnology. it's a term that's become synonymous with california's high-tech future. but what are these mysterious nanomaterials and machines, and why are they so special? come along as we take an "incredible journey" into the land of the unimaginably small. and america's last working whaling station. closed in 1972, it was the final vestige of an ancient lifestyle -- the symbol of a bygone era. and believe it or not, it was located in richmond, california. [ ♪music ]

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