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Op-Ed: Who is Jon Batiste and Why Did He Win Five Grammys?

Grammy-nominated and winner Jonathan Batiste is a musician, bandleader, and TV personality of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert from Louisiana. Through his 33 years of living, he has produced almost 11 albums and has performed with prestigious artists such as Ed Sheeran, Mavis Staples, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Willie Nelson. He is also a co-director and creative director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and The Atlantic.

Before this music guru gained popularity, Batiste was born into a family of musicians and music lovers. From a young age, Batiste learned to play percussion and drums alongside his family in the band, the Batiste Brother Band, modeled after the Jackson 5. Once he turned 11, he traded in his drums for a piano and, shortly after, mastered it. He released his first album six years later on Apple Music while attending the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Later on, he went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree from New York’s Juilliard School of Arts. He produced music for the popular Pixar animated movie Soul, which featured many jazz numbers. Batiste has also composed music and lyrics for the new upcoming Broadway musical based on the late influential artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Similar to his very upscale and modern dapper sense of style, his music blends the sound of traditional jazz with pop, R&B, and funk. Making something the old school has a new and refreshed sound. His music is very upbeat and provides transcending baselines and melody. As jazz is more of a dying genre, Batiste has mastered how to transcend the sound of jazz through decades to relate it to the younger generations of today. On top of that, Batiste has mastered the very demanding worlds of both music and television while still making sure his charisma is intact. He is very committed to the education and mentoring of young musicians. He advocates for more funding in the arts for younger generations.

It’s clear that Batiste is a musical genius, and his five grammy awards were well deserved. Although he is not a very popular or prominent figure in pop culture, he continues to make music that transcends and uplifts generations.


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