Jonathan Batiste

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Jonathan Batiste
Jonathan Batiste.jpg
Jonathan Batiste performs at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival
Background information
Also known as Jon Batiste
Born (1986-11-11) November 11, 1986 (age 28)
Origin Kenner, Louisiana, United States
Genres Jazz, blues, pop music, rock, soul, R&B, funk, hip hop, classical
Occupation(s) Singer, multi-instrumentalist, educator, comedian
Instruments Piano, voice, melodica, electric bass, Hammond Organ
Years active 1998–present
Associated acts Stay Human, Stephen Colbert

Jonathan Batiste (stage name Jon Batiste, born November 11, 1986) is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and bandleader from Kenner, Louisiana, United States. 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 both film and television. Most recently, he was appointed as the Associate Artistic Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Batiste regularly tours with his band Stay Human.[1] In 2012, he was listed on ARTINFO as among the "30 under 30" most influential people in the art world.[2] He received a master's degree from the Juilliard School[3][4] and currently resides in Washington Heights, Manhattan.[5] It has been announced that starting September 2015, Batiste will be the music director and bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.[6]


Batiste is a member of a long lineage of musicians from the Batiste family of Louisiana. 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.[7]

By the age of 17, he released his first of his two CDs as a 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 (NOCCA) along with Trombone Shorty, Batiste graduated in 2004 before going on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School.[3]

In 2006, he received the Movado Future Legend Award, being the only one to receive the honor for jazz.[citation needed] Prior to the honor, Batiste had already released his second CD Live In New York: At The Rubin Museum Of Art. By the end of the year, Batiste had already been a featured performer in South Africa, London, Lisbon, Spain, Paris, and the United States.[citation needed]

In 2007, he made his debut at the world-renowned Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, producing and performing his own show. In addition to the show, he also conducted music clinics/master classes and workshops throughout all of 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 an epic finale he composed for choir, jazz combo, and orchestral instruments. It was viewed as a hugely successful cultural exchange[by whom?] and garnered national attention. Also in 2007, Batiste began an ongoing collaboration with vocalist Cassandra Wilson.[citation needed]

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.[8] 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.[9]

He has recorded and/or performed with various artists including the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Prince (musician), Lenny Kravitz, Aloe Blacc, Judith Hill, Harry Connick Jr., Cassandra Wilson, Austin Bis, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Buffett, Abbey Lincoln, Roy Hargrove, Mark O'Connor and many more.[citation needed]

In 2012, Batiste was appointed Associate Artistic Director at the National Museum in Harlem as part of the leadership entrusted with the development and growth of the institution.[1]

Batiste is currently signed with Columbia Artists Management.[10]

Batiste and Stay Human logo, design by Celeste Diamond Li

In 2013, Batiste joined Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and bassist/producer Bill Laswell to score a film that had yet to be written and was ultimately never made. The soundtrack titled The Process was released on November 4, 2014.[11]

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. Batiste has toured extensively with this quintet in recent years and has named this band Stay Human. They all attended Juilliard together.[citation needed]

Batiste and his band are particularly known for actively engaging with audiences in an effort to create greater accessibility to and appreciation for the art of live music. 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 can be seen spontaneously playing in non-traditional venues and starting impromptu demonstrations through the streets which Batiste and the band have termed as "Love Riots".[12]

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 which grew from the question of how to connect with people.[13]

Film and television[edit]

Batiste's first television experience was playing the lead in a Japanese tourism commercial when he was 9 years old.[citation needed] More recently, he was cast in the HBO television series Treme, appearing in seasons 2 and 3. He was also cast as T.K. Hazelton in director Spike Lee's film "Red Hook Summer".[14] Batiste composed and performed all of the Hammond B-3 organ music that was a part of the film score. Batiste has composed film scores as well, including the television documentary Duke 91 & 92: Back To Back and the short film Melody Of Choice.[15]

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, replacing Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.[16][17]


  • 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


  1. ^ a b Pogrebin, Robin (2012-06-17). "National Jazz Museum in Harlem Plans Expansion". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "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. 
  3. ^ a b "Jonathan Batiste", The Juilliard Journal
  4. ^ "Q&A With Jonathan Batiste" by K. Leander Williams, The Juilliard Journal, September 2012
  5. ^ "Jazzman Jonathan Batiste’s credo: Everyone should enjoy the wonders of jazz" by Greg Thomas, Daily News (New York), December 9, 2012
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Martel, Brett (2008-02-18). "New Orleans tourism gets boost from NBA All-Star game". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  9. ^ "Stephen Colbert's New Bandleader Could Change Late Night TV" by Amanda Wicks, The New York Observer, July 24, 2015
  10. ^ "Jon Batiste | CAMI Music Official Site". Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "#LoveRiot: A Classic "Had To Be There" NYC Moment". 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Red Hook Summer at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Jonathan Batiste at the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ "Stephen Colbert's new Late Show band leader gave one of The Colbert Report‍ '​s best performances". The Verge. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "Meet Jon Batiste, Bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". Time. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Paul Shaffer
The Late Show bandleader
September 8, 2015 –
Succeeded by