Why does Gregory Porter wear a hat? Why the Jools Holland jazz singer always wears a hat and balaclava

The Grammy Award winning jazz singer has said that the hat has become his ‘signature look to rock’

Gregory Porter performing on Day 2 of the V Festival at Hylands Park (Photo : Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

After releasing his first album at nearly 40 years old, Gregory Porter has become one of the biggest names in jazz, with his albums being met with multiple Grammy Awards.

Following his performance on Jools’ Annual Hootenanny on New Year’s Eve 2021, many viewers have been left wondering - why does he always wear a hat?

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Why does he always wear a hat?

When asked by Jazz Weekly in 2012 why he wears his iconic hat, which is a black Kangol Summer Spitfire which has been fitted with a modified strap to be exact, he said: “I’ve had some surgery on my skin, so this has been my look for a little while and will continue to be for a while longer.”

In an interview with the Independent in 2016, Porter added that that cap has become his “signature look to rock”.

He said: “I get recognised for the hat in airports.

“In the UK, they know me quite well but they don’t give me a free pass, I get fully checked and secured.”

Gregory Porter performing on stage during the Nice’s Jazz Festival in 2018 (Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

In a more recent interview with Metro, Porter said: “It started off covering some scars from surgery but it’s become my style.

“I was in Denver and it was cold. I was wearing five layers of clothing and I wore a hat.

“It warmed up and I thought, “Actually, this is comfortable, this is a look”.

“I started to sing in a jazz club in Denver and people were like, “Oh yeah, that’s the guy with the hat”, so it became a thing.”

He added: “The only time I didn’t get recognised I took my hat off to swim in the ocean in Ibiza and no-one recognised me. I went back to my hotel and put my hat on… and there was Gregory Porter.

“But it’s okay, because some people are trying to connect and take a picture and say thank you for some joy they had. I’m really okay with it and I always honour people and they honour me by coming to my concerts. I’m thankful.”

What surgery has he had on his face?

Porter has never gone into detail about his facial scars, and he told the BBC in 2015 that he tries to “make it less about image and less about my hat and more about my heart and my sound”.

Speaking to the Telegraph in 2016, Porter said that he had received some facial scars at around “seven or eight” years old, however declined to get into any of the specifics.

Gregory Porter singing for Magic FM in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support (Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images)

He said: “I just saw it one day and said “I’m gonna put this on, I like it”. It was before the music career.

“I was making soup. I was talking to girls. “This is my look” and they were going “ooh, it’s different”.”

Porter has reassured fans in the past that the hat never gets hot or itchy, and he has a number of different ones to choose from.

Who is Gregory Porter?

Porter is an American singer, songwriter and actor who has twice won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, the first in 2014 for album Liquid Spirit and again in 2017 for Take Me to the Alley.

Born on 4 November 1971, he grew up in California with his minister mother Ruth and his seven siblings.

Speaking to Jazz Times in 2019, Porter explained that his father had been mostly absent throughout his life.

He said: “Everybody had some issues with their father, even if he was in the house. He may have been emotionally absent. My father was just straight up absent.

“I hung out with him just a few days in my life. And it wasn’t a long time. He just didn’t seem to be completely interested in being there.

“Maybe he was, I don’t know.”

Gregory Porter during the MOBO Outstanding Contribution To Music Award announcement at Gresham Centre (Photo: Joe Maher/Getty Images)

Porter rose to fame in the 2010s after he signed with Blue Note Records, under Universal Music Group, in 2013, after which he went on to win two Grammys.

In 2016, Porter performed during the Glastonbury Festival and then later that same year he performed at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park.

The following year he performed his song Holding On during the Graham Norton Show and in 2017 starred in Later… with Jools Holland: Later 25 at the Royal Albert Hall.

On New Year’s Eve 2021, Porter performed on Jools’ Annual Hootenanny.

Porter is married to wife Victoria, and the couple have two sons together, Demyan and Lev.

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