CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

Gregory Porter Sings for Mars Rover Launch

The lauded vocalist is the first recording artist to perform as part of a NASA Mars mission

Gregory Porter
Gregory Porter

Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Gregory Porter is teaming up with NASA next week for the launch of its historic Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission. He will give a special rendition of “America the Beautiful” from his home in California as part of the live coverage of the launch scheduled for Thursday, July 30. Porter is the first recording artist ever to be invited by NASA to perform for a Mars mission launch.

“I feel honored to be invited by NASA to perform before this historic launch,” Porter said in a statement. “I have always been inspired by space exploration ever since I was a boy, and it continues to fill me with awe when I look to the sky at night. It is wonderful to be part of this spectacular event and share in a collective moment of inter-planetary adventure with millions around the world.”

Noting “the fact that this flight must be completed in a moment of America’s story that calls for the very best in us to persevere,” Paul Wizikowski, executive producer of the NASA launch broadcast, said that “we felt it fitting to signal this send-off with a focus on what makes America beautiful.”

After its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA’s Perseverance Rover will head for the Red Planet, landing in its Jezero crater. The rover is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life. The mission will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future. It will also record the first-ever audio from the planet and test new technology to benefit future robotic and human exploration to Mars. Full mission coverage will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as numerous other platforms.

Somewhat aptly, the NASA announcement coincides with the release of Porter’s new single “Concorde,” which is accompanied by a space-themed music video that sees him, dressed as an astronaut, starring alongside his son Demyan. The track is taken from Porter’s forthcoming album All Rise, which will be released August 28 on Blue Note Records.

Read the transcript of a JazzTimes Before & After listening session with Gregory Porter and Don Was.