Get To Know Album of The Year Winner Jon Batiste!

From Juilliard to performing with jazz legends, Jon Batiste certainly has what it takes!

This year’s Grammy Awards had a stacked nominations list for the prestigious title of Album of the Year. Among Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, an unexpected winner emerged–Jon Batiste, for his album We Are.

The 35–year-old jazz and R&B fusion singer and multi-instrumentalist from Louisiana is certainly not a newcomer. Despite being up against many popular artists, Batiste’s work has received numerous other accolades in the past, and he has performed alongside several other powerful musicians, including Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel. Not to mention, he comes from a long line of some of New Orleans’ most esteemed jazz artists. Read on for more on Jon Batiste.

 

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He Comes From a New Orleans Musical Dynasty

Batiste was born in Metairie, Louisiana, into a big Catholic family–many of whom were also musicians. The Batiste family includes more than 25 musicians, some of whom were involved in some of New Orleans’ premier music groups, including the Treme Brass Band and the Olympia Brass Band. When he was only eight years old, he played drums in his family’s band, the Batiste Brothers Band. He began learning piano at the age of 11 and often transcribed songs from his favorite video games to strengthen his composing skills.

 

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Batiste Released His First Album at 17

His debut album, Times in New Orleans, was released while he was a student at Saint Augustine High School. At the same time, he was attending music lessons at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts with Trombone Shorty. Following graduation, he went on to attend Julliard, earning a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in jazz studies.

 

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Batiste Has Played In The House Band For The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Since 2015

Batiste joined Colbert’s show in 2015 after a performance with his band Stay Human on The Colbert Report caught their attention. The performance had the audience on their feet, and brought positive energy to the streets, engaging with pedestrians as well. Batiste has remained a mainstay on the show ever since.

 

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He’s Collaborated With Several Music Legends

While Batiste’s education is in jazz, this certainly does not limit his expertise in other genres. Throughout his impressive career, he’s collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, Will Smith, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Madonna, and Ed Sheeran. Many of these collaborations were live on The Late Show.

 

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Batiste Composed The Music For The 2020 Film Soul

The touching Disney Pixar film was a sweet return to Batiste’s roots in jazz and education, as it centers around one budding jazz musician’s journey to literally find the true meaning of having a soul. The film boasted an incredible cast, including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Angela Bassett, and Graham Norton. Batiste’s score was a collaborative effort with Trent Reznor of rock band Nine Inch Nails, and British composer and musician Atticus Ross. The group won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

 

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He Appeared On Sesame Street in November 2021.

Batiste sang “Heroes In Your Neighborhood” alongside Elmo in a sweet celebration of our everyday heroes. The show had a big impact on him growing up, and he was honored to perform there.

 

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He Is An Outspoken Activist

Batiste performed on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library for the celebration of Juneteenth in 2020, where he was joined by jazz pianist Matt Whitaker. The performance was presented in partnership with the charity organization Sing for Hope, which was founded by Juilliard alumni. Following the murder of George Floyd, Batiste participated in several Black Lives Matter rallies and demonstrations, and spoke on the importance of the movement: “The idea of changing the course of history as we talk about the devastation and the generational trauma of the last 400 years in this country, if we think about the next 400 years, now is the time to restructure everything that has been broken in every sector.”

 

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Batiste Performed At Standing Rock in North Dakota

Right before the Grammys, Batiste visited North Dakota, specifically, the Standing Rock Tribal Nation. He met and collaborated with locals, and in an inspiring Instagram post, encouraged his followers to “never forget their brothers and sisters.”

 

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This unforgettable artist surely has many great things coming to him in the near future. Now with a Grammy win under his belt, there’s no telling what’s coming next, but for now, you can still catch him on The Late Show if you’re a new fan of We Are.

About the Author

Madison Goldberg

Madison E. Goldberg is a senior at Emerson College majoring in journalism and minoring in publishing and photography. She’s covered numerous topics in news and entertainment as a multimedia journalist.