Recording artist, author and activist Jon Batiste is already an Oscar and Golden Globe winner. Now he hopes to add to his awards with 11 nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards, eight of which are for his highly acclaimed album, and cultural touchstone, ‘We Are’, which he released through Verve Records.
Batiste’s nominations show the wide scope of his talent and the diversity of his music, as he is shortlisted across multiple fields: jazz, classical, R&B, American Roots, score, music video, as well as in two of the highly competitive general categories. It is the first time Batiste has been nominated in the prestigious Record and Album of the Year categories (for ‘Freedom’, and ‘We Are’, respectively) and it is the most nominations ever received by a Verve artist in a single year.
‘We Are’ represents a completely new sonic chapter for Jon Batiste. Inviting some of the most esteemed creative minds to assist in birthing the album, he reached the finish line smack in the middle of the first wave of the worldwide pandemic and volatile social unrest. The result is a body of work characterized by the consciousness of Marvin Gaye, the grounded optimism of Stevie Wonder, the iconoclasm of Thelonious Monk and the swagger of Mannie Fresh.
Alongside songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo, Batiste wrote and planned much of the project in about a week from his dressing room at The Late Show (USA) where he’s the musical director and bandleader. ‘We Are’ was recorded in New York, Los Angeles and in his native New Orleans, melding inspiration from his new home and new collaborators with that of the Batiste musical dynasty. The album was also recorded in between sessions for Disney/Pixar’s 2020 hit film ‘Soul’, which saw Batiste’s music — and hands — incorporated into the animation about a teacher who dreams of being a jazz pianist.
On ‘We Are’, Batiste presents a captivating musical experience to the world rooted in catharsis, joy, freedom, contemplation and sensuality. It’s a love letter to his southern roots and the heritage of Black Music with guest appearances by Mavis Staples, Quincy Jones, Zadie Smith, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, St Augustine Marching 100, his father Michael Batiste, grandfather David Gauthier and many more. It is a meditation steeped in the sounds of the times with collaborators including POMO (Anderson.Paak), Ricky Reed (Lizzo), Jahaan Sweet (Drake, Eminem) and others.
“I’m publicly known for some things already,” says Batiste. “But there’s so much more to know about me. It’s always been there. Now is the time to show the world my full artistry.”
Batiste continues, “’We Are’ is a message of love for humanity, of humble reverence for our past, and of a hopeful future, in which we are the ones who can save us. The art reveals its motive to you. You just have to wait for the Spirit to tell you what it wants.”
Watch Jon Batiste’s reaction to his 11 nominations below: