NOLA Legend, Jon Batiste, Brings Home Five Grammys Including Album of the Year

Jon Batiste performing
File:Jon Batiste in Brooklyn Juneteenth 2020 (94023).jpg” by Rhododendrites is marked with CC BY-SA 4.0.

Jon Batiste, once again, made his hometown of New Orleans proud when he brought home five Grammy Awards on Sunday night. 

Batiste, 35, won the awards for Best American Roots Performance for the song “Cry,” Best American Roots Song for the song “Cry,” Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for the movie Soul, Best Music Video for “Freedom,” and Album of the Year for We Are. Batiste had the most nominations of the evening with eleven total.

Upon his win for Album of the Year, Batiste gave a heartfelt speech in which he said, “I believe this to my core, there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor. 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’s almost like it has a radar to find the person when they need it the most.”

Batiste is a member of a well-known musical family that includes Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, Milton Batiste of the Olympia Brass Band, and Russell Batiste Jr. He began playing drums at age eight and began studying piano at age eleven. At 17, he released his debut album, Times in New Orleans, and attended St. Augustine High School and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).

Batiste has released eight albums, including Social Music in 2013 and Hollywood Africans in 2018. The albums peaked at number one and number two on the U.S. Jazz Charts, respectively. We Are was recorded throughout 2020 and released in 2021. The title track features the St. Augustine High School Marching 100. The album also features appearances by Mavis Staples, Zadie Smith, PJ Morton, and Trombone Shorty.

Batiste’s win could signify the Recording Academy’s desire to focus on music considered “off the beaten path” to many. As of this writing, We Are peaked at 86 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, a far cry from fellow Album of the Year nominees Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, and Taylor Swift. 

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