Award-winning singer Gregory Porter performs at Houghton-le-Spring school for jazz fan

Cele Nelson was surprised when the Grammy award-winning American singer Gregory Porter popped into her school for a song

Jazz singer and Grammy winner Gregory Porter with Lorraine Martin and her daughter Cele Nelson
Jazz singer and Grammy winner Gregory Porter with Lorraine Martin and her daughter Cele Nelson

She may be just seven, but jazz fan Cele Nelson certainly knows how to get the attention of her idols.

Devastated that she was too young to watch Grammy-award winning Gregory Porter’s performance in Newcastle last night, Cele took action.

Getting her mother Lorraine Martin to write to the famous Jazz singer, Cele explained her predicament back in January.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon before Gregory’s performance at the Hoochie Coochie Club in Newcastle, and the award-winner was warming up in front of Cele and her classmates at Woodlea Primary School in Houghton-le-Spring.

Taking the school through a selection of his hits, such as Painted on Canvas and Cele’s favourite Water Under Bridges, the schoolgirl was left speechless by the honour.

Mother Lorraine, 38, said: “I told her I was going to see him at a late night licence venue and she was quite miffed.


“She kept going on and on and said, ‘Do something about it’, she said to send an email.

“I sent it to keep her quiet but they came back really quickly and that was in January.”

Since then there has been a lot of back and forth to get the secret gig organised around Gregory’s busy schedule. When the singer, who won a Grammy this year for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Liquid Spirit, arrived at the school Cele was left star-struck as she and her fellow pupils were lead into the assembly room.

“She just could not believe it, she started shaking when I told her he was coming,” said Lorraine, from Houghton-le-Spring.

“I listen to soul and jazz and she has just picked it up from there, although she does sneak in a bit of One Direction.

“She also likes Carole King and Stevie Wonder.

“It is a huge thing for the school, I do not think they could believe it. It is amazing for them all to do this for her,” added Lorraine, who works as a project manager for a pharmaceutical company.

Speaking to The Journal before his early performance, Gregory said he often gets letters and emails from young fans, but admitted this was his youngest crowd to date.

“It’s a first for me, I have done schools before but not this young,” said the New Yorker.

“It was really good to meet Cele, she was very sweet.

“I am always shocked when get messages from parents whose kids love the music, I am blown away,” he added.

Philip Adamson, head teacher, said it was a real honour for the school to have a Grammy award-winning singer in their midst.

“It’s a lovely surprise for the children,” he said.

“It is our centenary year, our school building is 100, so to have a Grammy award-winner come in is wonderful for the children.”

Cele presented Gregory with a thank you card and two centenary tea towels from the school after his performance.


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