born on 22/10/1891 in Bowling Green, KY, United States
died in 1955
Links www.discogs.com (English)
Porter Grainger (October 22, 1891 c. 1955?; fl New York, 1920s1930s) was an African-American pianist, songwriter, playwright, and music publisher.
When Grainger was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Granger family name did not include an "i." Although the exact date at which Grainger changed his name is unknown, he registered for the World War I draft by signing his name "Grainger". At that time, he was living in Chicago, and by 1916, his professional career had begun. In the spring of 1920 he left Chicago for New York City, and by 1924, he was living in Harlem. Working with another pianist and composer Bob Ricketts, in 1926 Grainger wrote and published the book How to Play and Sing the Blues Like the Phonograph and Stage Artists.
Though he would never really be known as an exceptional soloist in his own right, Grainger nevertheless thrived as an accompanist, working with singers such as Viola McCoy, Clara Smith, and Victoria Spivey. From 1924 to 1928, he worked with blues singer Bessie Smith to record more than a dozen sides for Columbia Records. He was also Mamie Smith's accompanist in the 1929 film short Jailhouse Blues and regularly appeared with her in stage shows.
As a bandleader, Grainger also made eight recordings. Four of these records, made with his ensemble the Get Happy Band, are of special interest to collectors of early jazz, as these albums feature performances by the soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, as well as by Duke Ellington sidemen Joe Tricky Sam Nanton (trombone) and Elmer Snowden (banjo). (In) Harlem's Araby also appeared on these recordings. The composition was co-written with Jo Trent and Thomas "Fats" Waller and is still considered one of Grainger's best works.
His last known recording appears to have been in 1932, although he performed and composed into the 1940s. His latter years remain mysteriously murky, although a copyright renewal application for the How to Play and Sing the Blues book was filed in his name in 1954.
Two of Grainger's songs have endured as blues standards: Tain't Nobody's Business if I Do (co-authored with Everett Robbins, who had also played piano in Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds), and Dying Crapshooter's Blues (1927). The former has been performed and recorded by several artists, including Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Fats Waller, Jimmy Witherspoon and the Ink Spots. The latter was performed by Martha Copeland, Viola McCoy, and Rosa Henderson before passing into folk-blues repertoire.
Other songs include the following:
- What's the Matter Now (1921)
- "Prescription for the Blues" (1924)
- Heart Breakin' Joe (1923)
- Honey (1924, with Bob Ricketts)
- Wylie Avenue Blues (1927, Joe Davis, co-author)
- Soul and Body (1927)
- Good Time Mama (1927)
- Fat and Greasy, (1936)
- Give It to Him (1937)
- I've Got to Have My Ashes Hauled (1937)
- One Hour Mama (1937)
- Can't You Take a Little Joke (1939)
- By an Old Southern River (1943)
- 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hurwitt, Elliot. Grainger, Porter African American National Biography, Oxford African American Studies Center. URL accessed 9 February 2011.
- 2.0 2.1 Yanow, Scott (2003). Porter Grainger All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues, Hal Leonard.
- 3.0 3.1 Rye, Howard. Grainger, Porter The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd, Grove Music. URL accessed 9 February 2011.