Jon Batiste

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Jonathan Batiste
Jon Batiste 2018 (cropped).jpg
Jonathan Batiste in 2018
Background information
Also known as Jon Batiste
Born (1986-11-11) November 11, 1986 (age 31)
Origin Kenner, Louisiana, United States
Genres Jazz, blues, pop music, rock, soul, R&B, funk, hip hop, classical
Occupation(s) Musician, educator, comedian
Instruments Piano, voice, melodica, electric bass, Hammond organ
Years active 1998–present
Associated acts Stay Human, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Jonathan Batiste (born November 11, 1986)[1] is an American singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator, comedian, and bandleader. Born in Kenner, Louisiana, into a family of musicians, Batiste has collaborated with many acclaimed musicians in various genres of music, released recordings of his own, performed in over 40 countries, and has appeared as an actor in film and television. Most recently, he was appointed as the artistic director at large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Batiste regularly tours with his band Stay Human,[2] which since September 8, 2015 has been the house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.[3] In 2012, he was listed on ARTINFO as among the "30 under 30" most influential people in the art world.[4] In 2016 he was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 music list.[5] He received a master's degree from the Juilliard School[6][7] and currently resides in Washington Heights, Manhattan.[8]

Early years[edit]

Batiste is a member of a long lineage of musicians from the Batiste family of Louisiana, including Lionel Batiste and Harold Battiste.[9] He was introduced to music by his family's band, the Batiste Brothers Band, in which he played percussion/drums at age 8. At his mother's suggestion, Batiste switched to piano at the age of 11.[10] He developed his piano skills by taking classical lessons and transcribing songs from video games such as Street Fighter Alpha, Final Fantasy VII and Sonic the Hedgehog.[11]

By the age of 17, he released the first of his two CDs as a band leader entitled Times In New Orleans, featuring New Orleans musicians including Jason Marsalis, Donald Harrison Jr. and Christian Scott. By then he was already attracting considerable attention as a young musician of great talent and potential. A student at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts along with Trombone Shorty, Batiste graduated in 2004 before going on to study at the Juilliard School.[6] While studying at Juilliard he released his second CD, Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art.

In 2006, Batiste received the Movado Future Legend Award, the only musician to receive the honor for jazz.[12] By the end of 2006, Batiste had been a featured performer in South Africa, London, Lisbon, Spain, Paris, and the United States.[13]

In 2007, he made his debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, producing and performing his own show. In addition to the show, he conducted music clinics/master classes and workshops throughout Holland in inner city schools and underprivileged neighborhoods. As a result, he was invited back to Carnegie Hall to produce and perform in his own show. The performance included six young musicians from the Netherlands in which Batiste composed music to feature within the program. The performance concluded with a finale he composed for choir, jazz combo, and orchestral instruments. It was viewed as a hugely successful cultural exchange and garnered national attention.[13]

Batiste in 2008 during a soundcheck for Cassandra Wilson at Bluesfest in Ottawa

Batiste was a featured member of the 2008 NBA All-Star Game halftime show.[14] Batiste was the youngest artist, performing alongside Allen Toussaint, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, and Davell Crawford.

By 2009, Batiste had released 2 CDs and 2 EPs of his own, and performed in over 40 countries. In addition to the piano, he chose the melodica as a passion and adopted it as one of his signatures.[15]

In 2012, Batiste was appointed associate artistic director at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem as part of the leadership entrusted with the development and growth of the institution.[2]

Batiste is currently signed with Columbia Artists Management.[16]

In 2013, Batiste joined Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and bassist/producer Bill Laswell to score a film that was not yet written and was ultimately never made. The soundtrack titled The Process was released on November 4, 2014.[17]

He has recorded or performed with various artists including The Soul Rebels, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Buffett, and Questlove.

In May 2017, Batiste received an honorary degree from Salve Regina University for his musical achievements and contributions to Newport's 2014 International Jazz Day.[18][19]

Stay Human[edit]

In 2005 Batiste began performing regularly around the New York music scene with his trio, including bassist Phil Kuehn and drummer Joe Saylor. They first met in 2004. A few years later he recruited Eddie Barbash on alto saxophone and sometime after that Ibanda Ruhumbika on tuba. They had all attended Juilliard.[20] Batiste named the band Stay Human and has toured extensively with this quintet in recent years.

Batiste and his band are particularly known for actively engaging with audiences. The band draws its moniker from the belief that the human interaction of a live musical performance can uplift humanity in the midst of the "plug in/tune out" nature of modern-day society. Either on tour or during time off the band sometimes leads impromptu street performances, which Batiste calls "Love Riots."[21]

In 2011, Batiste and the Stay Human band released another self-produced CD entitled MY N.Y. According to Batiste, the album was recorded in its entirety on actively running New York City Subway trains, a concept that grew from the question of how to connect with people.[22]

On April 22, 2017, Batiste and Stay Human played for the March for Science rally at the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. In the mission statement for the March for Science it states "The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity."

Film and television[edit]

More recently, he was cast in the HBO television series Treme, appearing in seasons 2, 3 and 4. He was also cast as T.K. Hazelton in director Spike Lee's film Red Hook Summer.[23] Batiste composed and performed all of the Hammond B-3 organ music that was a part of the film score. Other film scores composed by Batiste include the television documentary Duke 91 & 92: Back To Back and the short film Melody Of Choice.[24] He also appears in the film Thrive by Paul Szynol.

In 2014, Batiste and Stay Human appeared on The Colbert Report to perform the group's single, "Express Yourself", co-written and produced with Austin Bis. On June 4, 2015, it was announced that the group would serve as house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.[25][26]


  • Times in New Orleans (2005)
  • Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art (2006)
  • In the Night EP (2008)
  • The Amazing Jon Batiste! EP (2009)
  • MY N.Y. EP (2011) – as Jonathan Batiste and the Stay Human Band
  • Social Music (2013) – as Jon Batiste and Stay Human
  • The Process (2014) – with Chad Smith and Bill Laswell
  • The Late Show EP (2016) – as Jon Batiste and Stay Human (band)
  • Christmas with Jon Batiste (2016) - as the Jon Batiste Trio


  1. ^ Rose, Lacey; O'Connell, Michael; Sandberg, Bryn Elise; Stanhope, Kate; Goldberg, Lesley (August 28, 2015). "Next Gen Fall TV: 10 Stars Poised for Breakouts". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Pogrebin, Robin (2012-06-17). "National Jazz Museum in Harlem Plans Expansion". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Serico, Chris. "And Stephen Colbert's new 'Late Show' bandleader is…". 
  4. ^ "ARTINFO'S 30 Under 30 / Jonathan Batiste Having mastered the music world at a young age – he released two albums by age 17 and then went on to Juilliard – the 25-year-old jazz pianist is now focusing on making his name in the museum community. Batiste has become one of the biggest draws at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, where he serves as artistic director. He and his team have been charged with preparing the institution for its impending move to a new home across the street from the Apollo Theater". Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  5. ^ {{
  6. ^ a b "Jonathan Batiste", The Juilliard Journal
  7. ^ "Q&A With Jonathan Batiste" by K. Leander Williams, The Juilliard Journal, September 2012
  8. ^ "Jazzman Jonathan Batiste’s credo: Everyone should enjoy the wonders of jazz" by Greg Thomas, Daily News (New York), December 9, 2012
  9. ^ Ehrlich, Dimitri (November 11, 2013). "Jon Batiste". Interview Magazine. 
  10. ^ The Aspen Institute (2 July 2014). "A Conversation with Jon Batiste: The History & Future of American Music" – via YouTube. 
  11. ^ Weingarten, Christopher (August 5, 2015). "Meet Jon Batiste, Colbert's Crowd-Thrilling Bandleader". Rolling Stone. 
  12. ^ "Movado Future Legends Honors Five Emerging Artists of Exceptional Talent". PR Newswire. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Award-Winning Jazz Artist Batiste Performs at SU Monday, September 24". Salisbury University. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Martel, Brett (2008-02-18). "New Orleans tourism gets boost from NBA All-Star game". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Stephen Colbert's New Bandleader Could Change Late Night TV" by Amanda Wicks, New York Observer, July 24, 2015
  16. ^ "Jon Batiste | CAMI Music Official Site". Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  17. ^ "THE PROCESS, with Bill Laswell, Jon Batiste, and Chad Smith coming this fall!". 
  18. ^ "George Wein, Jon Batiste to Receive Honorary Degrees from Salve Regina; Batiste to Give Commencement Address". What'sUpNewp. 2017-04-12. Retrieved 2017-05-23. 
  19. ^ salvereginaU (2017-05-22), Jon Batiste Commencement Address - May 21, 2017, retrieved 2017-05-23 
  20. ^ Hodges, Bruce (November 2014). "3 Releases From Jazz Grads". The Juilliard Journal. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  21. ^ "#LoveRiot: A Classic "Had To Be There" NYC Moment". 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  22. ^ Blumenfeld, Larry (4 January 2012). "Jonathan Batiste and the Stay Human Band Fill the Subway with Their Take on Jazz". 
  23. ^ Red Hook Summer on IMDb
  24. ^ Jonathan Batiste on IMDb
  25. ^ "Stephen Colbert's new Late Show band leader gave one of The Colbert Report's best performances". The Verge. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  26. ^ "Meet Jon Batiste, Bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". Time. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

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