Why does Gregory Porter wear a hat?

The jazz singer is always pictured wearing his flat cap

Gregory Porter wearing his hat while performing on stage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following his recent appearance at the Royal Variety Performance, fans of the jazz singer have been asking why does Gregory Porter wear a hat?

Grammy Award-winning Gregory Porter is one of the most famous names in jazz, and has been compared to Nat King Cole, Donny Hathaway, and Stevie Wonder. While he's performed at huge events across the world - including the late Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations (opens in new tab) - his appearance on talk shows often draws just as much interest from fans.

For all of his public appearances, Gregory Porter wears a flat cap - specifically a Kangol Summer Spitfire - which also covers his ears and chin. The headgear has become synonymous with the jazz singer, but it leaves many asking why does Gregory Porter wear a hat?

Why does Gregory Porter wear a hat?

Gregory Porter has spoken openly about his decision to wear his hat, explaining that he started wearing the hat to cover up scars after undergoing skin surgery, and it has been his look ever since.

In an interview for Metro (opens in new tab), Porter explained: "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.

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He went on to say: "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."

In fact, Gregory Porter's hat has become such an integral part of his look that he now gets recognised more often with the hat on than when he takes it off. "The only time I didn’t get recognised I took off my hat to swim in the ocean in Ibiza and no one recognised me," he said. "I went back to my hotel and put my hat on… and there was Gregory Porter."

Porter previously told the BBC that he wants to be "less about my hat and more about my heart and my sound" - despite acknowledging in his interview for Metro that he isn't always recognised without it.

He added that he doesn't have a problem with people associating him with the hat, saying, "It’s ok because 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."

Why does Gregory Porter wear a balaclava? 

While to many it looks like Gregory Porter is wearing a balaclava under the Kangol Summer Spitfire, it's actually a modified strap that is part of the hat.

He wears the strap for the same reason as the hat - originally due to skin surgery he had over a decade ago. He told Jazz Weekly in 2012, "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. People recognise me by it now. It is what it is."

Porter has previously called the hat his "security blanket" and refers to it as his “jazz hat.''

Speaking to The Independent (opens in new tab) about his hat, 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.

"There has been a time or two when I have been asked to sing to let them know it’s really me. When a person in uniform asks you to do something you are conditioned to do it."

Who is Gregory Porter?

Gregory Porter is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter. He was born in 1971 in California and raised in Bakersfield along with his seven siblings.

He released his first album at 40 years old, and since then has become one of the biggest names in jazz, performing earlier in 2022 at the late Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Gregory won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album twice, first in 2014 for Liquid Spirit and then again in 2017 for Take Me To The Alley. In 2021 he released his most recent album - Still Rising - and in November 2022 he released a new single called 'Capacity to Love' with trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.

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Ellie Hutchings
Junior Features Writer

Ellie joined Goodto as a Junior Features Writer in 2022 after finishing her Master’s in Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. Previously, she completed successful work experience placements with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue and the Nottingham Post, and freelanced as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. In 2021, Ellie graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class degree in Journalism.