Meet New Grammy Winner Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste is an extremely versatile artist: singer, bandleader, musical director, film composer, creative director of a museum, and scion of New Orleans musical royalty. The multi-instrumentalist won five Grammy Awards on Sunday, and despite appearing on television all week, many people may still not know much about him.


Batiste composed music, advised and arranged songs for “Soul,” Pixar’s animated midlife crisis mixed with New York jazz fantasy and body-swapping comedy. He won a Golden Globe for music alongside Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails’ Atticus Ross, and later the Oscar for best original score. For this same work, the trio won the Grammy for best soundtrack for visual media on Sunday.


Batiste has toured the world with his band Stay Human and made a memorable stop on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” in 2014. When the producers of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” were considering having a permanent band the following year, Batiste and Stay Human were the natural choice. The mutual respect Colbert and Batiste share is obvious. The bandleader often animates the comedian’s late-night monologue from the piano, appears in segments, and accompanies the musical guests. Batiste stayed with the job even during the pandemic, creating tunes, both original and covered, on the spot.


As a recording musician since he was a teenager, Batiste’s albums include “Hollywood Africans,” produced by T Bone Burnett; “Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard” and “Meditations”, a collaboration with guitarist Cory Wong. His album “Social Music” spent more than a month atop the Billboard and iTunes jazz charts, and he also created the pandemic benefit album “Relief: A Benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America’s Musicians Relief Fund.” ”. His eighth album, and the one that earned him the top award at the Grammys, was 2021’s “We Are,” a sonic explosion that combines R&B, jazz, hip hop, marching bands and rock, sometimes in the same song. Batiste won accolades Sunday in categories as diverse as R&B, jazz, American roots, classical music, music video and album of the year. His “American Symphony” opens in May at Carnegie Hall.


Batiste was born into a New Orleans musical family that includes the Batiste Brothers Band and legendary jazzmen Milton and “Uncle” Lionel Batiste. He played drums as a child before switching to piano at age 11. He is a graduate of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. The music and culture of New Orleans are highlighted in his video for “Freedom,” which features the band from St. Augustine High School, where Batiste studied, marching through the city streets. “Jon Batiste has been a tremendous ambassador for Louisiana, both as an artist and as someone who truly cares about the people of our great state,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Monday.


Batiste became the first music director of The Atlantic magazine in 2017 and is co-creative director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. He has appeared in ad campaigns for Chase, Apple, Lincoln, and numerous fashion brands, including Ralph Lauren, Barney’s, Nordstrom, and H&M. His song “Freedom” has been played at the NCAA Tournament and was the face of New Orleans before the Final Four on Saturday night at Caesars Superdome. He also had a role in the 2012 Spike Lee film “Red Hook Summer” and appeared as himself in the HBO television series “Treme.” Batiste is literally the poster boy for the upcoming New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

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Meet New Grammy Winner Jon Batiste