Jon Batiste has quite the resume. The Louisiana native has been in the biz for more than 17 years and has unsurprisingly made a name for himself as one of the best jazz musicians of his generation. With his passion for community, Batiste believes that people are the heart and soul of all music and aims to spread love through his work to uplift those who need it. From his dabbles in television to his iconic street and subway performances, there isn’t a lot that the star can’t do.
Here’s everything you need to know about Jon Batiste.
He comes from a successful musical family
Batiste comes from a long line of jazz musicians, all of whom have contributed to the New Orleans music scene in some form or another. His father, a bassist, even went on to co-find the Batiste Brothers Band, a family band of seven brothers that Batiste himself would enter at age 8 to play percussion. By age 11 he would switch to piano and further enhance his musical abilities and career.
He branches out into acting
Jumping onto seasons 2, 3 and 4 of HBO’s Treme, a fictionalised show that sees New Orleanians try and rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina, Batiste appears as himself and mimics the bustling New Orleans music scene. He’s also secured a spot in Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer and Paul Szynol’s Thrive.
He started playing in subways with his band Stay Human
Stay Human started as a group of Julliard friends performing in the streets of New York City, with Batiste on piano, melodica and vocals. Wanting to bring some humanity into our modern technological world, Batiste and his crew would put on impromptu street performances — which they called ‘love riots’ — and hope to brighten up New Yorkers’ days. The band have released two EPs, MY N.Y. and The Late Show EP.
Speaking of that Late Show EP …
The awe of Stay Human caught the eyes of Stephen Colbert, who went on to sign them as the official house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Since 2015, Batiste has served as the bandleader and Music Director for the show, popping up from time to time in bits with Colbert and even going on to perform with stars such as Will Smith, Billy Joel and John Legend.
He’s an award-winning artist
For his efforts co-composing music for Pixar’s Soul, Batiste earned a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Critic’s Choice, and an Academy Award for Best Original Score. But that’s only a small addition to the accolades the star has received. Batiste has earned three Grammy nominations over the course of his career, appeared on the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 music list, been awarded the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award, and received the Harry Chapin ASCAP Humanitarian Award.
He just really, really gets music
On top of his own musical achievements, Batiste has a wonderful history just working in the music industry. As well as becoming a mentor and holding workshops for upcoming jazz musicians, Batiste also serves as the Music Director for the publication The Atlantic as well as Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
He’s just released a music video!
Off his latest album We Are, ‘Freedom’ is a bubbling feel-good hit that invites people to simply live and breathe through the rhythms of music. And the music video only amplifies that more. Set in New Orleans, Batiste is found celebrating the colourful city and the artists who live within it, and there’s plenty of dancing and fashionable fun to drool over. At a time where our world is still recovering from a harrowing past year, it’s refreshing to find some joy in humanity and life again.