He’s the most-nominated artist at the 64th Grammy Awards, but Jon Batiste’s bona fides go far beyond music — and it’s time for the 35-year-old multi-hyphenate to be truly recognized.
Jon Batiste was born on 11/11, and if ever there were an ultimate wish for a musician to make, it came true last November when the 35-year-old artist was revealed as the most-nominated artist at the 64th Grammy Awards.
How many nods did the singer, songwriter, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert bandleader receive ahead of the music industry’s grand ceremony on April 3?
It had to be 11.
“I’m so over the moon,” Batiste told The New York Times shortly after nominees were revealed. “We made this album throughout the pandemic, and we had so many things going on. We recorded the soundtrack and score for Soul during the pandemic. It was so much. You always put your blood, sweat, and tears into the craft of making an album, but it was doubly so during that time.”
The album is last March’sWe Are — a soul masterpiece rooted in Batiste’s New Orleans heritage that served doubly as a musical manifesto and bold piece of activism.
The range of Batiste’s nominations reflect his multi-hyphenate skill set, from throwback jazz pianist to modern musical auteur.
2022 Jon Batiste Grammy Nominations
- Album of the Year: We Are
- Best R&B Album: We Are
- Best American Roots Song: “Cry”
- Best Jazz Instrumental Album: Jazz Selections: Music From and Inspired by Soul
- Best Contemporary Classical Composition: “Movement 11′”
- Record of the Year: “Freedom”
- Best Traditional R&B Performance: “I Need You”
- Best Improvised Jazz Solo: “Bigger Than Us”
- Best American Roots Performance: “Cry”
- Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media: Soul
- Best Music Video: “Freedom”
Here’s the thing, though: Batiste has not needed and still doesn’t need the Recording Academy’s blessing. This man has been out here for a while, achieving sonic ubiquity without the over-exposure that typically accompanies it in the pop realm.
Jon Batiste’s Career Milestones
- Graduated with a master’s degree in piano from Juilliard
- Founded Stay Human, the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert since 2015; he continues to serve as its officially the bandleader and composer
- Involved with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem since 2009, where he is still listed as co-artistic director
- Appeared in four episodes of HBO’s Hurricane Katrina-centric dramatic series Treme (2011-13) and in Spike Lee’s R-rated 2012 drama Red Hook Summer
- Selected for Forbes’ coveted 30 Under 30 list in 2016
- Named music director of The Atlantic in November 2017
- Won his first Oscar last year — shared with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross — for the Soul soundtrack, and he became the second-ever Black composer to top the Music (Original Score) category
- Raised total career Grammy nominations to 14
Brand Reach & Digital Footprint
- 1.87M monthly Spotify listeners
- 295K Instagram followers
- 229K YouTube subscribers
- 114.8K Twitter followers
- Notable endorsements and partnerships: Apple Watch, Chase Bank, Coach, Frye, H&M, Kate Spade, Lauren Black Label, Lincoln Continental, Nordstrom
Courtesy of Billboard
- Peaked at No. 63 on the Artist 100 last April
- Cracked the Billboard 200 twice — first in 2014 with Social Music alongside Stay Human and again as a solo act with We Are last April
- Topped the Jazz Albums with Social Music in November 2013 — totaling six top-10 projects on the chart overall
- Slotted at No. 6 (“Freedom”) and No. 8 (“I Need You”) on R&B Digital Song Sales
- Hit No. 7 in Top Album Sales with We Are
- Honored with the inaugural Benny Golson Award for “outreach work he has done throughout” Philadelphia in March 2017
- Received the American Jazz Museum 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award because he “bridged the gap between 20th century and 21st century jazz”
- Recognized by The Gordon Parks Foundation alongside the likes of late Congressman John Lewis and Mavis Staples in June 2017
- Spearheaded the Social Music Residency and Mentoring Program
- Performed peaceful protest concert “We Are: A Revival” in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder — in partnership with Sing for Hope — and led a peaceful march of around 5,000 people through New York City
All that matters, really, is that the right people have known not only Batiste’s intentions behind his artistic pursuits but the heart he has for doing right by them. The title of his most universally recognized body of work yet could not be more perfect: Jon Batiste always views himself in the context of we.
Traces of that are everywhere. His discography features collaborations with icons such as Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Willie Nelson (and he wants to score a film with Radiohead?). His family is deeply respected in the music community, especially in New Orleans. His grandfather’s voice, as Batiste explained to The New York Times, is present on the album’s title track:
“‘We Are’ is a song that features my grandfather, who is an incredible activist. He’s somebody who grew up during the Memphis sanitation strike. He was a protester, he was somebody who basically fought for the rights for me to be able to be where I am today. And he’s on the record. The lyrics in that record reference all of the things that we were fighting to maintain during the protest for Black lives. So it was really just one of those things where I made the song, not knowing that the moment would come for the song before the album was finished.”
It’s fitting that Batiste is headlining the Grammys in a year where the ceremony was postponed from January to April due to Omicron because he is experienced in delayed gratification. He is trained in focusing on a longer-term vision for lasting impact.
You’re not likely to find an artist who cares less about awards glory yet deserves it more. Batiste’s sure-to-be stirring performance will resonate beyond Las Vegas, appropriately spotlighting a musician who thrives on the purity of his craft.
Whether Batiste wins once or 11 times at the 64th Grammys Sunday, he will do everything in his power to help the “we” reign victorious in the end.
The 64th Grammys, hosted by Trevor Noah, will broadcast live from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday beginning at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.