Jon Batiste has charmed the ears of audiences for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert since 2015, but as the 2022 Grammy Awards’ most-nominated artist — with a whopping 11 nods behind his most recent solo offering (and Consequence‘s No. 34 Top Album of 2021) WE ARE — he’s established himself as a renaissance man all his own.
The moment is not lost on Batiste, who tearfully reflected on The Late Show after the nominations were announced that “there’s something in this that’s bigger than me and just adulation for me that I have to learn in this.”
Ahead of Music’s Biggest Night on Sunday (April 3rd), here are five things to know about the artist. (You can also brush up on everything Batiste is nominated for here.)
1. He Comes From a Huge Musical Family
Batiste grew up in New Orleans with a family that had widespread musical sensibilities, including his father, who played bass in a band with his seven brothers, and over 30 cousins that are also musically inclined. His uncles Lionel Batiste and Harold Battiste are New Orleans jazz legends, and he became an honorary member of family’s Batiste Brothers Band as an accomplished pianist and melodica pioneer in his own right.
2. He Formed Stay Human with His Juilliard Classmates
Batiste’s jazz ensemble and eventual Late Show house band formed in 2004 while the classical pianist was a student at The Juilliard School in New York City. While Batiste earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in jazz studies, the group expanded from a three-piece to full-fledged band that includes saxophone, brass, and guitar. The collective has gone on to release MY N.Y., an album completely recorded in New York subway stations, and The Late Show EP, which features the program’s iconic theme and bumper music.
3. He Already Had A Television Career Before Colbert
Though it was a consequential appearance on The Colbert Report that nabbed Batiste the Late Show bandleader gig, he had already gotten significant face-time on the small screen years before. On HBO’s Big Easy-based musical drama Treme, the New Orleans native played a fictionalized version of himself as pianist in main character Delmond Lambreaux’s band. In 2013, Batiste revealed to Interview Mag that creator David Simon based many of the show’s musical aspects off of his family’s extensive influence on the New Orleans jazz scene.
4. He Has Collaborated with the Best of Them
On top of his routine accompaniments to Late Show musical guests, Batiste has a prolific career as a collaborator to the likes of Prince, Wynton Marsalis, Lenny Kravitz, Allen Toussaint, Stevie Wonder, and Dr. John.
5. His Collabs Have Taken Him to the Awards Circuit, and Grammy Stage, Before
The versatile composer’s prolific run of collaborations has led him to wild success, most notably garnering an Academy Award for Best Original Music with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Pixar’s Soul.
He also performed on the Grammy stage in 2018 with Gary Clark Jr. and Stay Human drummer Joe Saylor as part of a tribute to Fats Domino and Chuck Berry, and will put on yet another performance, come Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.