What I Know About Women: Singer Gregory Porter says Mommy was the glue that held us together
- Gregory Porter, 48, who lives in California, is an award-winning jazz singer
- Thinking about his mother’s sacrifices, he says her life was about love
- He said she was trying to give another family money on her last day
Gregory Porter, 48, is a Grammy-awarded jazz singer and the artistic curator of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. He lives in California with his wife Victoria and son Demyan.
I am a mother boy. Mamma, or Miss Ruth as people called her, was a preacher and was very concerned about children, the elderly and those affected. She died more than 20 years ago, but people whose lives she touched still come to me, and I’m surprised.
Mom died of breast cancer when I was 21 and I remember her last day telling my sister to get her wallet. She tried to give money to another family to cover their rent. We kids were in the hospital room and we said, “Think about yourself.”
Gregory Porter, 48, (photo) who lives in California, reflected on how his mother affected his life and that of others
At the time we were upset: she takes her last breath and here she reaches for her bag. When she thought after her death, I thought, “I’m so glad we didn’t stop her, because loving and giving was her life.”
The sacrifices she made were often sacrifices the whole family made. She gave my clothes away – I was often pretty broken because she brought my favorite sports jerseys. But my mom was quick: she went to your room, got things and gave them away. You can never get too close to anything. That is dear to me now.
I remember when she spent hours making a Thanksgiving meal and then first bringing it to the homeless – we ate the leftovers. She made mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cornbread, and it all went in the truck and to the local soup kitchen.
I looked at her and wanted to be like her in many ways, and I’m still trying to be like her. I put my mother’s kindness and grace in my music.
My father was not on site and it was my strong mother who was the glue that held us all together, and her greatest dream and desire was for us brothers and sisters to help and love one another.
After I found success I wanted to do that maternal thing to bring my family back together so here I am. I have a huge dining table and on special occasions I do a huge meal for over 100 people.
We squeeze around the table and walk into the other rooms, bump into each other and say, “This is in her honor.”