The biggest win of Jon Batiste’s career – so far – came in the closing moments of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. After presenter Lenny Kravitz read out the names of the nominees – Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, H.E.R. Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and Lady Gaga with Tony Bennett – the rock star opened the envelope and announced that Jon, 35, had taken home Album of the Year for We Are. After Jon realized that this wasn’t a joke, he accepted the Grammy in a speech that praised his fellow nominees while celebrating all those who make art.
“I truly believe this to my core—there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor,” he said, per Pitchfork. “The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song, or an album is made, and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most.”
Jon entered the 2022 Grammys with the most nominations – eleven in total – and he left with five wins. Here’s what you need to know about him.
Jon Batiste Is A Musician
Jon Batiste, born November 11, 1986, in Metairie, Louisiana, hails from a New Orleans musical dynasty. His father was a bassist who performed with Jackie Wilson and Isaac Hayes on the “Chilin’ Circuity” of the 1960s and ’70s, according to NPR. His father co-founded the Batiste Brothers Band – seven brothers who played R&B, soul, funk, and the music of New Orleans. Jon said that his first mentor was Alvin Batiste, a clarinetist who “who taught everyone from New Orleans music over the last 40 years.” His Uncle is Lionel Batiste from the Treme Brass Band, and his cousin, Russell Batiste Jr., played with the Funky Meters.
“I mean, there are at least 30 of the Batiste relatives that are cousins of mine or my uncles,” he told NPR. “It’s a rich family tradition, I’ll say.”
Jon grew up playing drums before shifting over to the piano. After high school, he studied music at Julliard, earning his undergraduate and master’s degree. After graduating from the prestigious institution, he landed a gig that changed his life.
He Is Best Known As The Bandleader For ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’
Jon booked an appearance on one of the final episodes of The Colbert Report. He impressed Stephen Colbert so much that when the former Comedy Central star took over The Late Show from David Letterman, he asked Jon to fill bandleader Paul Shaffer’s spot (per The Hollywood Reporter). Jon’s band, Stay Human, came along, and since 2015, they have provided music and joy for all those at the Ed Sullivan theatre in New York City.
Jon Secretly Got Married In February 2022
Ahead of the 2022 Grammy Awards, Jon revealed to CBS Sunday Morning that he and Suleika Jaouad tied the knot in secret in February. Suleika, the author behind the bestselling cancer memoir Between Two Kingdoms, and Jon have been together for eight years. They decided to wed after she was diagnosed with leukemia for a second time.
“We got married the day before I was admitted to the hospital to undergo my bone marrow transplant,” she told CBS Sunday Morning. “We have known that we wanted to get married, I think, from the first week that we started dating. That’s when Jon first brought up the topic of marriage to me. So, we’ve had eight years. This is not, you know, a hasty decision!”
“He said to me, ‘I just want to be very clear, I’m not proposing to you because of this diagnosis. It’s taken me a year to design your ring. So, just know this timing has nothing to do with it. But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn’t change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together.’ But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it,” added Suleika.
Jon Was Previously Nominated Before 2022
Once the 2022 Grammy Awards were said and done, Jon had a handful of accolades to line his mantle at home. In addition to winning Album of the Year, he took home the Grammy for Best Music Video (“Freedom”), Best American Roots Performance (“Cry”), and Best American Roots Song (“Cry”). He also took home the award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media – more on that later – bringing his win total up to five.
He was also nominated for Record of the Year (“Freedom”), Best Traditional R&B Performance (“I Need You”), Best R&B Album (We Are), Best Improvised Jazz Solo (“Bigger Than Us”), Best Jazz Instrumental Album (Jazz Selections: Music From And Inspired By ‘Soul’) and Best Contemporary Classical Composition (“Batiste: Movement 11”).
At the 63rd Grammy Awards in 2021, he was nominated for Best New age Album (Meditations) and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album (Chronology Of A Dream: Live At The Village Vanguard). Two years before that, he scored his first Grammy nod with a Best American Roots Performance nomination for “Saint James Infirmary Blues”)
Jon Is An Oscar Winner
The Grammy Jon won for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media? It was for the original score to Pixar’s Soul. At the 2020 Academy Awards, Jon became an Oscar winner when the soundtrack won Best Original Score. He shares the award with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.