Nat King Cole is widely revered as one of the greatest vocalists of all-time. His soft, smooth baritone voice is so distinctive and so powerful that few have managed to approach the emotionality of his original records. Mark down Gregory Porter as one of the few.

Hailing from the U.S., Porter has developed into one of the most vital jazz artists in the world. He's twice won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album -- in 2014 for Liquid Spirit and earlier this year for Take Me To The Alley. His albums have enjoyed particular success in the UK, where he is currently the best-selling jazz artist.

Porter's recently released record Nat King Cole & Me, which debuted at number three on the UK album chart, continues his streak of success with a poignant, moving tribute to Cole. Featuring classic songs like 'Mona Lisa' and 'L-O-V-E,' Nat King Cole & Me is a stirring album with a deeply personal connection to Porter.

As Porter enjoyed the success of his most recent release, he took the time to answer a few questions about the record and what it means to him.

Congratulations on releasing this spectacular record. Nat King Cole is one of the most storied voices in music history. You are obviously incredibly accomplished as well, but was it still intimidating taking on the songs that made him so famous?

It would be if I was thinking of the record as a career move or trying to use it as a way to gain more popularity, but I think of this record really as a tribute to what Nat meant to me and to my career. It was actually a joy to get into the studio and create these songs. I didn't really feel any intimidation. I found the recording process a kind of spiritual connection to Nat. So it feels wonderful.

What inspired you to pay tribute to Cole? And what does Cole mean to you?

The timeliness of coming to Nat’s music at five or six and internalizing it emotionally as I did helped me realize the power of music at an early age. Listening to Nat’s lyrics and feeling like he was singing to me was an important thing to me and to my whole career -- realizing the power of music, what music can do, what these melodies can do, their timbre and tone and feeling. Not just to a child but to anybody’s heart and head. That was some really powerful information. The timelessness of the message, "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off," "Smile," "Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue." Nat had a ton of message songs. He always had a message in his music, it wasn’t just music to snap your fingers to.

I like the idea that one of his most famous songs that he wrote himself evolved from his father's sermons. My mother was also a minister and I write many of my songs from the influence of my mother’s sermons. I think my songs 'Liquid Spirit,' 'Take Me To The Alley,' even 'When Love was King' are written from the ideas that were instilled in me sitting in the church listening to my mother’s sermons.

You've described the album has a form of therapy for the emotional impact the absence of your father was having on you. How did the album's creation and release impact you emotionally? Was it taxing? Cathartic?

Yeah, it is cathartic actually. I think every time I do an interview and talk about what these songs mean, there’s still some emotion there. When I sing 'I Wonder Who My Daddy Is,' I still feel some emotion there. When I think about how and why I came to Nat’s music, there’s definitely still some emotion there. The idea that I have to have some personal feelings about the projects I dig into is helpful. And it can be one of those artistically raw moments -- it feels beautiful, but in a way it still hurts. But that’s art.

The promotion of and the conceptualizing of the record was a beautiful process and a part of my life. It was an emotional process. There's some documentary film that was taken in the studio, which captured some moments of deep emotion that happened. That have not yet been released to the public. My sister was there so she felt the emotion that was coursing through me at the time. 'I Wonder Who My Daddy Is' and 'When Love Was King' and all the songs on the record there some powerful moments of emotion that are sometimes fueled by the lyric and sometimes by the backstory of the lyric. So it was just powerful to be there and to have this dream come true.

What was it like working with the London Studio Orchestra?

Totally incredible. The sound and the power of a 70-piece orchestra, the elevation the sound of an orchestra can bring to a voice. To perform with them, and to also have the arrangements specifically written for my voice by the incredible Vince Mendoza, was an amazing experience.

Is any one song on the record particularly special to you? Why?

I would say 'When Love Was King' is important to me. Nat is there, even though it’s not a song that he ever recorded or wrote. Stylistically the song is influenced by him. I sat down and wrote the song, and in my mind I said to myself, "If I wanted to write a song for Nat King Cole, what would it be?" In a way it brings in a song like 'Nature Boy.' I was trying to write a song with a great and strong message -- something as powerful as, "The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." I think everything is encompassed in 'When Love Was King.' It’s a song I wrote, but the influence of Nat is there. The drive for writing the song was for Nat King Cole so even though he’s not in that song, he’s very much in that song. When I say 'When Love Was King,' I think I’m talking about Nat King Cole.

You've already won two Grammys, along with innumerable other accolades and praise. What's next?

I think winning the Grammys was really awesome. And I hope that there are a couple more I could win, but I hope to continue to make meaningful music that speaks to myself but also to the listener. I would like to continue to create music that moves and strikes the heart.

Nat King Cole & Me is out now. Porter is currently touring the U.S. and will return to Europe in spring 2018. Check out his upcoming tour dates and purchase tickets on his website.