David Porter (born November 21, 1941) is an American record producer, songwriter, singer, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Porter was a 2005 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, with catalog sales exceeding 300 million units. In 2015, Rolling Stone listed him among the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. He is best known for songwriting, having written Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" (1968 Grammy winner), Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" (1993 Grammy winner), Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy wit It" (1999 Grammy winner), and Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'".
He is also the founder of the Memphis-based Consortium MMT, a nonprofit organization seeking to develop the music industry in Memphis.
Porter has over 1700 songwriter and composer credits for a range of artists, including Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Celine Dion, Otis Redding, Drake, ZZ Top, Tom Jones, Ted Nugent, Bonnie Raitt, Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, Patsy Cline, Albert King and Eurythmics.
Porter was the ninth of 12 children born to James and Corean Porter in Memphis, his second oldest brother was COGIC Bishop W. L. Porter (1925-2009). Porter's career began in music after singing in church, school, Memphis venues and competitions, often with close friend and classmate Maurice White, who later founded Earth, Wind and Fire. Porter graduated from Booker T. Washington High in 1961 and later attended LeMoyne College. While still a high-school student working at a grocery across from Satellite Records, he went over to find if the label would consider recording soul music.
After meetings with Chips Moman, Porter became active at Satellite as a songwriter. With this role, Porter arranged for his friends and classmates to record for the Satellite label, including Booker T. Jones, William Bell, and Andrew Love. Soon after, Satellite rebranded as Stax Records and redefined their focus to become a soul music label.
Porter was the first staff songwriter at Stax Records and developed his skills in A&R and songwriting. In Porter's A&R capacity, he signed acts including The Emotions, Homer Banks, The Soul Children and was a catalyst for bringing in Isaac Hayes as a writing partner. As house composers for Stax Records, Porter and Hayes penned most of Sam & Dave's hits, including "Soul Man", "I Thank You", "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'". They also wrote material for Carla Thomas ("B-A-B-Y"), Johnnie Taylor ("I Got to Love Somebody’s Baby" and "I Had a Dream"), and The Soul Children. Starting in the late 1960s, Hayes became increasingly focused on his own recording career, eventually leading to the end of the songwriting partnership. The Hayes-Porter duo composed 200 songs during their collaboration.
Porter then began recording his own albums for Stax. He did a single for Stax itself in 1965, "Can't See You When I Want To", a remake of which became a Top 30 R&B hit for Porter. He cut several albums for Stax in the early 1970s, including a concept LP, Victim of the Joke? which includes an upbeat cover of The Beatles' "Help!". Also, he released on other labels under the pseudonyms Little David and Kenny Cain.
Porter began working with songwriting partner Ronnie Williams, and later went on to engineer the brief relaunch of the Stax label in 1978, after the bankrupt label's assets were acquired by Fantasy Records. He and Hayes received Pioneer Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.
On June 9, 2005, Porter was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Bill Withers, Steve Cropper, Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman, John Fogerty, and his longtime writing partner Isaac Hayes.
In 2012, Porter founded The Consortium MMT, a 501(c) non-profit with the goal of developing a viable music industry in Memphis through structured teaching, experience and mentorship. Porter was awarded the 2013 Governor's Arts Award for his achievements including the founding and success of The Consortium MMT venture.
All albums issued on Stax Records' Enterprise label.
All singles issued on Stax Records' Enterprise label unless otherwise noted.
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