Get to Know Jon Batiste, the 2022 Grammys' Most-Nominated Artist
Jon Batiste, a true multi-hyphenate.
The 35-year-old Oscar and Golden Globe winner, bandleader, and multi-genre musician has a great chance of adding another impressive title to his lengthy list of accomplishments: Grammy winner. Batiste is the most Grammy-nominated artist for the 2022 ceremony.
The Recording Academy announced on Tuesday that Batiste leads the pack with a whopping 11 nominations, surpassing well-known chart-toppers such as Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, and Billie Eilish. Even more impressive, his nods span across seven fields: General Field, R&B, Jazz, American Roots Music, Music For Visual Media, Classical, and Music Video/Film.
"Music keeps me young," the 35-year-old musician said about his album We Are in the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. "My [album] has life and is an artistic achievement [that has components] of the past, present and future."
Amid Batiste's honorable recognition for his albums Freedom, We Are, and the soundtrack for Pixar's Soul, the "I Need You" singer has been significantly recognized as the bandleader and musical director for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The New-York adopted jazzman began his late-night tenure on CBS in 2015.
Batiste told Colbert the night the Grammy news was announced, "There is so much happening for me in my life right now." He continued, "And this is happening and there is something in this that is bigger than me and just adulation for me that I have to learn in this. I'm so grateful."
The jazz pianist has released eight studio albums to date, in addition to five live albums. He's also collaborated with a variety of musical icons including Stevie Wonder, Prince, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran, Roy Hargrove and Mavis Staples.
Keep scrolling to discover more about the 11-time Grammy-nominated artist's impressive background, before music's biggest night on Jan. 31.
He comes from a musical family.
The Louisiana native has music in his blood because he was born a member of the New Orleans musical dynasty, the Batiste Family. Consisting of over 25 musicians, Jon stems from the long, legendary line of talent that includes his father Michael Batiste. Other members of the Batiste Family include jazz connoisseurs Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, Milton Batiste of the Olympia Brass Band, and Russell Batiste Jr.
At the age of 8, Jon played percussion and drums with his brothers in the Batiste Brothers Band, co-founded by his father. They jammed to genres including R&B, soul, funk, and New Orleans music.
He discovered jazz through video games.
Like most children, Batiste had a love of video games. Unlike most children, he was always fascinated by and questioned why music enhanced the players' game experience and the stories that were told through music. The jazz genius used the games' scores and soundtracks as early musical inspiration thanks to the likes of Street Fighter Alpha, Final Fantasy VII, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
"[Games] subconsciously taught me about theme and development, how to create catchy themes that you want to hear over and over again," he told the Washington Post. "But at the same time, the theme can't be annoying. It can't be. After you've heard [an annoying] theme 100 times, you're ready to put the game on mute."
He attended the Juilliard School.
Deeply engulfed in New Orleans' jazz culture, his talents took him to the Juilliard School in New York at age 17, where he absorbed the nature of the city. He and his band played little concerts for subway riders, while he reflected upon the influential impact music can have on city culture.
"Music has always been a way for people to endure hardship and figure out how to really connect to their humanity or affirm their humanity when everything around them is trying to squash their humanity," he told the New York Times.
His peers-turned-bandmates who jammed on the streets of New York throughout his time in Julliard have amped up their gigs ninefold. Called Stay Human, Batiste and his band not only serve as the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but they've jammed all over the world (in over 40 different countries!).
He organizes impromptu street performances.
Since moving to New York, Batiste and Stay Human have made it their mission to introduce jazz to an everyday audience that isn't often exposed to it while intertwining it into the New York City culture. "They might not be exposed to it or have an interest in it yet, and we take something like jazz and we bring it right in front of people. It's like a captive audience," Batiste said outside on the Lower East Side.
In addition to playing traditional venues and clubs, they take their music to the streets and subways in what he calls "love riots." Batiste explained, "What happened tonight is what we call a love riot... There's love that's spread between everybody through the music and it's sort of like a riot because we stop the street."
He continued, "New York culture is like the fastest, most eclectic, diverse culture that you could possibly be in on planet Earth... It's affected me in the sense that I'm always thinking, always moving and always trying to assimilate new things."
He led a peaceful protest through jazz.
Batiste took part in the Juneteenth event in Brooklyn on June 12 last year, a protest concert part of a series called "We Are." Surrounded by hundreds of silent protesters, the musical activist performed a rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" – described as "a song that he says demands reinvention," the New York Times reports.
"The way that Jimi Hendrix took the song, the way that Marvin Gaye or Whitney took it — that tradition is what I am thinking of when I play it," he told the crowd. "The diaspora that they infused into it is a response to the toxic ideologies that are embedded in the song and thus in the culture."
He has notable acting credits.
Honestly, what doesn't Jon Batiste do? Clearly, the performer thrives in front of audiences – and isn't shy of the camera either! He was cast in Spike Lee's film Red Hook Summer and has appeared in three seasons of HBO's Treme, a series about his hometown, New Orleans. Both of the characters he played were jazz musicians, but he somewhat fell into the role on Treme.
"Well, I was just trying to figure out a way to get my music featured on the show, and the producers asked me to read and screen-test for it. I was expecting maybe just a cameo or something, but then they asked me to do this recurring role," he told his alma mater's publication, The Juilliard Journal. "The lead character, Antoine Batiste, is based on one of my [extended] family members."