Emanuel Harrold is a two-time Grammy Award winning musician. His work with Gregory Porter Band has been his mainstay since the beginning of the band. He’s part of Porter’s original Harlem Jazz Machine, the core band, and he is featured on all of Gregory Porter Band albums — Water (2010), Be Good (2012), the Grammy-winning Liquid Spirit (2013) and Grammy-winning Take me to the Alley (2017) and All Rise (2020).
Emanuel Harrold is the heart-beat of the Gregory Porter Band, he has been inspired by St. Louis musicians such as Al St. James, Jerome “Scrooge” Harris and Montez Coleman, as well as world-renowned names such as Art Blakey, Max Roach and Elvin Jones to name just a few.
TCM: Hello Emanuel, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to partake in our interview. We all had a bit of a time out from about March 2020. Any epiphanies during the pandemic time, like writing a book or live classes? Starting a record company? I found that for many people, including myself—folks found themselves stepping outside their boundaries.
Emanuel Harrold: Hello! To answer your question. I had a few epiphanies.
The main idea is to be self sufficient financially. This allows an artist to pursue their craft long term. Residual income, etc., you know.
So with that in mind, I have started a commercial cleaning company that I also help to staff and work at. This is via the inner city of St. Louis. The idea is to provide resources and jobs to those who may need extra funds to survive in this ever changing world. When I have time, when I’m off the road, I don’t mind getting my hands dirty too.
To keep occupied, I did a lot of writing for my upcoming EP titled Funk La Soul that is releasing August of 2022. Then, a Full Album, first quarter of 2023.
I am excited about expressing my writing chops. Most people know me for accompanying and being a part of Gregory Porter Band.
Other than that, I’m taking care of my family and doing my best to stay mentally and spiritually grounded.
TCM: You’ve been a longtime member of the Gregory Porter Band. What’s the trick to keeping in the groove?
Emanuel Harrold: Yes, I am the longest member traveling and recording with Gregory Porter Band. I’m not the oldest though, (laughing). That would be our piano player, Chip Crawford.
The trip to the groove, is to be honest with the music. We are heavily rooted in traditional jazz, gospel, soul, and rock. Understanding these nuances will keep the music dancing all night long.
TCM: I’ve noticed your sense of timing is really deep—do you have your own special clavè happening, what are you listening to.
Emanuel Harrold: My special clavè is the One. Allowing the music to have a pulse including polyrhythms, but paying special attention to the one. Or else, we would just float away.
TCM: Your passion Emanuel, pet projects? What does your future look like? Upcoming projects, records—advice?
Emanuel Harrold: Special projects in the works include working with the other Gregory Porter band members on their projects. Putting out the next Gregory Porter Band record and also working on Volume 2 of my record Funk La Soul with Gear Box Records based out of London, United Kingdom.
TCM: Thank you Emanuel. Excellent to hear from you and looking forward to hearing you play at the Toronto Jazz Festival.
Emanuel Harrold: Thank you for your time and let’s please catch up again soon.