Jon Batiste

Last updated

Jon Batiste
Jon Batiste 2023.jpg
Batiste in 2023
Background information
Birth nameJonathan Michael Batiste [1]
Born (1986-11-11) November 11, 1986 (age 37)
Metairie, Louisiana, U.S. [1]
Education Juilliard School (BM, MMus)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • bandleader
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • film composer
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano, keyboards, melodica, guitar
Years active1998–present
Member of Stay Human
(m. 2022)
Website Jon Batiste
Batiste at Carnegie Hall JonBatiste.png
Batiste at Carnegie Hall

Jonathan Michael Batiste (born November 11, 1986) [2] is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, and television personality. [3] He has recorded and performed with artists including Stevie Wonder, Prince, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, Roy Hargrove, Juvenile, and Mavis Staples. Batiste, with his band Stay Human, [4] appeared nightly as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert from 2015 to 2022. [5] [6]


Batiste also serves as the music director of The Atlantic and the Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. In 2020, he co-composed the score for the Pixar animated film Soul , for which he received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award and a BAFTA Film Award (all shared with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). [7] Batiste has garnered 5 Grammy Awards from 20 nominations, including an Album of the Year win for his album We Are (2021). [8]

In 2023, Batiste featured in the documentary film American Symphony which records the process of Batiste composing his first symphony. [9]

Early life and education

Jon Batiste was born in Metairie, Louisiana, to a Catholic family. [1] [10] He grew up in Kenner, Louisiana. [2] Batiste is a member of a New Orleans musical dynasty, the Batiste family, that includes Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, Milton Batiste of the Olympia Brass Band, and Russell Batiste Jr. [11] [12] At the age of 8, he played percussion and drums with his family's band, the Batiste Brothers Band. [13] At the age of 11, he switched to piano at his mother's suggestion and took classical piano lessons from local piano teacher, Shirley Herstein, every Saturday from ages 11 to 18. [14] Batiste further developed his piano skills by transcribing songs from video games such as Street Fighter Alpha , Final Fantasy VII and Sonic the Hedgehog . [15]

At 17, Batiste released his debut album Times in New Orleans. He attended St. Augustine High School and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts with Trombone Shorty in New Orleans and graduated in 2004. He then went on to attend the Juilliard School, receiving a Bachelor of Music in 2008 and a Master of Music in 2011, both in jazz studies. [16] While at Juilliard, he released his second album, Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art. By the end of 2006, Batiste had been a featured performer in South Africa, London, Lisbon, Spain, Paris and the United States. [17]


Batiste plays at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Jonathan Batiste.jpg
Batiste plays at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival

In 2007, Batiste made his debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam at the age of 20, producing and performing his own show. He conducted music clinics, classes and workshops throughout the Netherlands in inner-city schools and underprivileged neighborhoods. He was invited to Carnegie Hall to produce and perform in his own show with six young musicians from the Netherlands. [18] The performance concluded with a finale he composed for choir, jazz combo and orchestral instruments. In the following years, Batiste released a number of music projects including Social Music (2013), which spent over a month at the top of the Billboard and iTunes jazz charts; The Late Show EP (2016) with Stay Human; and a holiday album Christmas with Jon Batiste (2016). In 2017, he released the singles "Ohio" with Leon Bridges and Gary Clark Jr. as well as "Battle Hymn of the Republic" for The Atlantic . Batiste's cover of "St. James Infirmary Blues" was nominated for a Grammy in 2019, in the category of Best American Roots Performance. Batiste's debut solo album Hollywood Africans was released by Verve Records in September 2018. "Don't Stop" served as the lead single. Leading up to the album release, he completed a Summer Festival tour across the U.S. with the Dap-Kings.

Batiste's notable career performances include a tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino during the 60th annual Grammy Awards (performing alongside Gary Clark Jr.); the Kennedy Center Honors' tribute to Carmen De Lavallade; the Concert for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama; the National Anthem at the 2017 NBA All Star Game; and Opening Night of the 2017 US Open. He has curated the Global Citizen Advocacy Concert with Tom Morello and the Louis Armstrong Wonderful World Festival in Queens, N.Y.

Batiste was cast in the HBO television series Treme , appearing as himself in seasons 2, 3 and 4. He was also cast as T.K. Hazelton in director Spike Lee's film Red Hook Summer [18] and composed and performed the Hammond B-3 organ music that was a part of the film score. Other film scores composed by Batiste include the television documentary Duke 91 & 92: Back to Back and the short film Melody of Choice. He also appears in the films Da Sweet Blood of Jesus by Spike Lee and Thrive by Paul Szynol.

Stay Human

Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform at the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival Jon Batiste and Stay Human (20255578410).jpg
Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform at the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival

In 2005, Batiste began performing regularly in New York with his Juilliard peers, bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor. He later added Eddie Barbash on alto saxophone and Ibanda Ruhumbika on tuba. [19] Batiste named the band Stay Human, which draws its moniker from the belief that human interaction during a live musical performance can uplift humanity in the midst of the "plug in, tune out" nature of modern society. The band leads impromptu street performances, which Batiste calls "love riots". [20] Notable artists were often seen accompanying Batiste, including Wynton Marsalis. [21]

In 2011, Stay Human released the album MY N.Y., which was recorded in its entirety on New York City Subway trains, an idea that came to Batiste after questioning how to connect with people. [22]

On April 22, 2017, the band played for the March for Science rally at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. [23] [24]

In 2014, Batiste and Stay Human appeared on The Colbert Report to perform the group's single "Express Yourself", written and produced with Austin Bis.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

On June 4, 2015, it was announced that Jon Batiste and Stay Human would serve as house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert . The show premiered on CBS on September 8, 2015. [6] On the show, Batiste and Stay Human have performed alongside Billy Joel, Will Smith, Wynton Marsalis, John Legend, Grace VanderWaal, and Nas.

On the August 11, 2022, episode, Colbert announced that Batiste had decided he would not be returning to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in order to "pursue personal and professional interests". [25]

Juneteenth 2020 celebration

Batiste performs at Juneteenth. Jon Batiste in Brooklyn Juneteenth 2020 (94098).jpg
Batiste performs at Juneteenth.
Batiste performs at Black Lives Matter rally at Barclays Center in 2020

In June 2020, Batiste took part in the Juneteenth celebration in Brooklyn, New York with a day of protests, marches, rallies, and vigils to "celebrate, show solidarity, and fight for equal rights and treatment of Black people". [26] Performing on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library, Batiste was joined by Matt Whitaker in a performance presented in partnership with Sing For Hope. [26]

The 2020 Juneteenth took place during the protests following the murder of George Floyd, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, seen by some as connected to an increase in an awareness of racial injustice. [27] When questioned as to the differences he sees in the present movement for change, and its connection to music, Batiste responded by saying: " has always been something that has had all of the different purposes of our life and our community and our healing and our unspoken pain and the transmission of messages and the raising awareness of a condition of a people. [...] What's different now is that it's much more widespread in the support of changing the systemic oppression that's been going on for 400 years." He believes, "Now, it's more important than ever for us to be reintroduced to what our ancestors used music for, because it's been forgotten. [...] The world at large sees music as entertainment. It's never been that, at its root. It is that in one element of it, but the entire spectrum of music is far, far deeper and wide-ranging." [28]

Soul and We Are

Batiste composed music for the 2020 film Soul , collaborating with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. [29] [30] The trio went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score [31] and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score [32] among many other wins and nominations.

On March 19, 2021, Batiste released We Are , his fifth solo studio album. Speaking to Atwood Magazine, he described it as "a culmination of my life to this point" and "the most representative of where I'm at as a creative, and as an artist". [5]

In July 2021, Batiste released a live EP, Live at Electric Lady, performed in one day at Electric Lady Studios. The album was released exclusively to Spotify. [33]

In October 2021 he made a surprise performance at night singing "Like a Prayer" in the streets of Harlem along with Madonna promoting the release of her concert film Madame X .

At the 64th Grammy Awards, Batiste earned 11 nominations: eight for We Are, and three for Soul . [34] Of the 11 nominations, Batiste won five awards including Album of the Year, [8] becoming the second Black artist to win that award since 2008, when Herbie Hancock won for his album River: The Joni Letters . [35]

World Music Radio

In June 2023, Batiste announced a new album World Music Radio . A concept album, it was released on August 18, 2023. Some of the album's featured artists include Lana Del Rey, Lil Wayne, NewJeans, and JID. The album was also supported by a single, "Calling Your Name". [36]

American Symphony

On September 22, 2022, Batiste conducted the premiere of his composition American Symphony at Carnegie Hall, New York. A review in Variety concluded: "It wasn't just the story of America, and its collage-like charms and vices. This was also Batiste's story, and he made a handsome orchestral debut of that story at Carnegie Hall in a truly shining hour." [37]

In 2023, Batiste was featured in the documentary film American Symphony , directed by Matthew Heineman, executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, which records the process of Batiste composing his first symphony while his wife Suleika Jaouad suffers the return of her leukemia. [9]

Influences and music style

Batiste cites among the artists who have most influenced his artistic and musical choices Mahalia Jackson, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Django Reinhardt. [38] [39] Interviewed by Forbes, Batiste explained the significance of jazz music: [39]

Music is a real form of connection to a higher power at its greatest; music was a form of community that brought people together and gave them a common purpose. Jazz is really a term that doesn't encompass what it's pointing at, [...] the intellectual breadth of black geniuses who were basically denied the credential of being a genius in society because of their skin tone. [...] We always talk about improvisation, and it really is one of the only forms of music that exemplifies the American experiment putting all these different cultures into one country and coexisting and trying to create beautiful music together.

Jon Batiste, in Jon Batiste: So Much More Than Stephen Colbert's Music Director (Forbes)

Activism and philanthropy

Batiste was born into a family active in the struggle against racial segregation in the United States; [38] his grandfather David Gauthier was president of the Louisiana Postal Workers Union, involved in the 1968 labor strike sponsored by the Memphis, Tennessee, Department of Public Works for higher wages and safer working conditions. [40]

The singer is a supporter of civil rights, the fight against racism, participating publicly in numerous demonstrations, including the marches promoted by the Black Lives Matter movement. [41] Following the murder of George Floyd in June 2020, Batiste organized peaceful protests in New York City against police brutality in the United States. [42]

Through the single "We Are", he supports the Equal Justice Initiative of attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson. Batiste is also among the sponsors of several initiatives, including Innocence Project, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and The Legacy Museum. [43] [38]

Personal life

Batiste is married to journalist, musician and best-selling author Suleika Jaouad. The two met as teenagers at band camp. [44] On April 3, 2022, the couple revealed in an interview on CBS News Sunday Morning that they had been married in a private ceremony at home in February 2022. [45]

Raised in the Catholic Church, Batiste continues to identify as a Christian, and has been outspoken about his faith. [46] [47] [48]


Jon Batiste discography
Studio albums6
Live albums5
Soundtrack albums2
Collaborative albums3

Studio albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions





Times in New Orleans
Jazz Is Now
  • Released: May 28, 2013
  • Label: Naht Jona
  • Formats: CD, digital download, streaming
Social Music
(with Stay Human)
  • Released: October 15, 2013
  • Label: Razor & Tie, Concord
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
Christmas with Jon Batiste
  • Released: November 19, 2016
  • Label: Naht Jona
  • Formats: CD, LP
Hollywood Africans
  • Released: September 28, 2018
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
[upper-alpha 1] 2
We Are
  • Released: March 19, 2021
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
World Music Radio
  • Released: August 18, 2023
  • Label: Verve, Interscope, Naht Jona
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Collaborative albums

The Process
(with Chad Smith and Bill Laswell)
  • Released: October 21, 2014
  • Label: M.O.D. Technologies
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
(with Cory Wong)
  • Released: May 29, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
Swing States: Harmony in the Battleground
(with Regina Carter, John Daversa, and Harvey Mason)
  • Released: July 13, 2020
  • Label: Tiger Turn
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Soundtrack albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions




Soul: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
  • Released: December 18, 2020
  • Label: Walt Disney
  • Format: CD, digital download, streaming
Jazz Selections: Music From and Inspired by Soul
  • Released: September 24, 2021
  • Label: Walt Disney
  • Format: LP, digital download, streaming

Live albums

List of live albums, with selected details
TitleDetailsPeak chart positions


Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art
  • Released: May 26, 2006
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
The Music of John Lewis
(with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis)
  • Released: March 24, 2017
  • Label: Blue Engine
  • Format: CD, digital download
Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard
  • Released: August 2, 2019
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: CD, LP, digital download
Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard
  • Released: November 1, 2019
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
Live at Electric Lady
  • Released: July 29, 2021
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: Streaming

Extended plays

List of extended plays, with selected details
TitleDetailsPeak chart positions


In the Night
  • Released: 2008
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
The Amazing Jon Batiste!
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download, streaming
(with Stay Human)
  • Released: October 28, 2011
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
The Late Show EP
(with Stay Human)
  • Released: February 5, 2016
  • Label: The Late Show Inc.
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
We Are: Roots & Traditions
  • Released: November 27, 2020 [67]
  • Label: Verve
  • Format: Vinyl
[upper-alpha 2]
Spotify Singles
  • Released: March 27, 2019
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: Streaming
A Little Bit of Soul
  • Released: December 21, 2020
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
We Are the Golden Ones
  • Released: January 12, 2021
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Jon Batiste: The Nominated Collection
  • Released: April 4, 2022
  • Label: Verve, Naht Jona
  • Format: Digital download, streaming


As lead artist

TitleYearPeak chart positionsAlbum






"Rise Up"
(with Fonseca)
2014Non-album single
"Endless Love"
(featuring Aloe Blacc)
2016 [upper-alpha 3] Christmas with Jon Batiste
(with Leon Bridges and Gary Clark Jr.)
2017Non-album singles
"Battle Hymn of the Republic"
"Sweet Lorraine"2018Relief: A Benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America's Musicians Relief Fund
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Recorded at Spotify Studios NYC)
(featuring Danielle Brooks)
Non-album single
"Creative" (live)2019Anatomy Of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard
"It's All Right" (from Soul) (Duet version)
(with Celeste)
2020Non-album single
"I Need You"2 [upper-alpha 4] [upper-alpha 5] We Are
"Freedom"2021413 [upper-alpha 6] 1939131821
"Sweet" (with Pentatonix and Diane Warren) [79] 2022Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1
"The Light Shines Brightest in the Dark" (from Marlowe )2023Non-album single
"Be Who You Are (Real Magic)" (featuring JID, NewJeans and Camilo)7World Music Radio
"Calling Your Name" [80] 21
"Drink Water" (featuring Jon Bellion and Fireboy DML) [81]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
"When I Get There"
(Peter CottonTale featuring Jon Batiste, Jeremih, Jamila Woods, and Jack Red)
(Nora Germain featuring Jon Batiste)
Non-album single
"Sunday Bloody Sunday"
(Deon Jones featuring Jon Batiste)
(Yung Bae featuring EarthGang, Jon Batiste, and Sherwyn)
2022Groove Continental: Side A
"Jon Batiste Interlude"
(Lana Del Rey featuring Jon Batiste)
2023 Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
"Candy Necklace"
(Lana Del Rey featuring Jon Batiste)
"Saint Ferdinand"
(Lauren Daigle featuring Jon Batiste and Natalie Hemby)
Lauren Daigle

Awards and honors

Batiste has received several accolades, including being placed in the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 music list, [82] and being named Grand Marshal of Endymion Parade in New Orleans in 2018.

He has been awarded the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award, the Harry Chapin ASCAP Humanitarian Award and the Movado Future Legend Award. In May 2017, Batiste received an honorary degree from Salve Regina University for his musical achievements and contributions to Newport's 2014 International Jazz Day. [83] In 2018, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance for "Saint James Infirmary Blues". [8] In 2020, he received two Grammy nominations: his album Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, and Meditations (with Cory Wong) was nominated for Best New Age Album. [8]

In 2020 Batiste, along with Nine Inch Nails band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, composed the score for the Disney and Pixar animated film Soul. The three went on to win the Golden Globe, the Critics' Choice Award, the BAFTA Award, and the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Batiste's Oscar win made him only the second black composer to win an award in the category (after Herbie Hancock in 1987). [32] In 2021, Batiste received 11 nominations and became the most nominated artist at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. [84]

In 2022, Batiste won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. [85] He was named in Time magazine's 2022 "Top 100 Most Influential People", in the Icons category. [86] Batiste was featured on the 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's commemorative poster. [86]


  1. Hollywood Africans did not enter the Billboard 200 but did peak at number 33 on the Top Album Sales chart. [61]
  2. WE ARE: Roots & Traditions did not enter the Billboard Jazz Albums chart but peaked at number nine on the Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. [68]
  3. "Endless Love" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart but peaked at number 22 on the Adult R&B Airplay chart. [76]
  4. "I Need You" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 14 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales chart. [77]
  5. "I Need You" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart but peaked at number seven on the R&B Digital Song Sales chart. [78]
  6. "Freedom" did not enter the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number two on the R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Song Sales chart. [77]

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  1. 1 2 3 Stated on Finding Your Roots , January 7, 2020
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Further reading