Who is Jon Batiste? ‘Soul’ composer leads 2022 Grammy nominations
Nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards dropped on Tuesday, with musician Jon Batiste leading the pack with 11 nominations.
Though Batiste, who has been nominated at the Grammys thrice before but never won, may not have the same name recognition as fellow nominees Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish or Olivia Rodrigo, his work has received heaps of praise. His R&B and soul album “We Are,” released in March, earned a nod for album of the year, and his song “Freedom” is up for record of the year.
And with additional nominations in jazz, R&B and American roots categories, Batiste, 35, continues to proves that his work defies narrow expectations of genre.
“I don’t even think genre exists,” Batiste said in a June interview with the Recording Academy. “Self-curation and the free exchange of information and content creates a lack of genre adherence. That kind of diversity and access changes listening habits and changes the way people perceive music.”
Here’s what fans should know about the musician poised to take the 2022 Grammys by storm.
Batiste won an Oscar for composing ‘Soul’
“What’s deep is that God gave us 12 notes. It’s the same 12 notes Duke Ellington had, Bach had. It’s the same 12 Nina Simone (had),” said Batiste, while accepting the Oscar with fellow composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. “I’m just thankful to God for those 12 notes.”
Batise also made history that night, becoming the second Black composer to win the original score award in the category’s 86-year history, according to Variety. Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock was the first, winning the award for 1986’s “Round Midnight.”
He is the bandleader on ‘Stephen Colbert’
Batiste may be a new face to many Grammys fans, but viewers of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” will already recognize him as the show’s bandleader.
In addition to leading the late-night comedy show’s band since 2015, Batiste also occasionally banters with host Colbert on-air. Following Batiste’s recent appearance on “Sesame Street,” Colbert asked Batiste if the children’s show was “full of hellspawn,” after the character Big Bird promoted COVID-19 vaccines on Twitter.
“The letter D is for definitely not. And don’t dare call Big Bird a demon, Doofus,” Batiste replied. “I don’t like that. Big Bird is my boy.”
He was named music director of The Atlantic
In 2017, Batiste was named music director of the publication, in what they called “a newly curated role.” According to the publication, as music director Batiste “will collaborate with the editors on a range of projects, from writing, to video, to live events.”
“I see myself as bringing a different energy, a different sort of source of inspiration for the publication whether it’s writing about music or the intersection of history and music, or current events and things related to culture that are going on, it’s always been a really great outlet for me,” Batiste told Forbes about the role in a 2019 interview.
He also works with the National Jazz Museum
Batiste serves as artistic co-director and creative director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, New York.
“I think my role is to give back to the Harlem community because of what it has given to us,” Batiste told Forbes in 2019.
He sang with Elmo on ‘Sesame Street’
During his appearance on “Sesame Street,” Batiste sang a song with Elmo saluting unsung neighborhood heroes, like sanitation workers, grocers, doctors and nurses.
“These are the heroes in your neighborhood,” Batiste sang with a chorus of muppets. “They’re the people that you meet helping anyone on our street / The heroes that you meet each day.”