In 2020, Jon Batiste redefined what it means to be productive.
Recording and releasing two Grammy-nominated albums, check.
Cultural and social advocacy, check. Band leading and music directing on the Late Show, check.
Practicing, learning, sharing, growing, check.
Was he done there? Batiste? Nah.
He decided to build a studio in his dressing room at the renowned Ed Sullivan Theater and invited a few talented friends—including singer-songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo—to lay the blueprint for what is destined to become a seminal masterpiece of black pop American music, his forthcoming album, WE ARE.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention, he put all of this together in 6 days? As I said, this guy redefined productivity.
He ended the year with his music and likeness being centrally featured in the Disney/Pixar film Soul. His composing and songwriting will be featured in his large-scale, genre-melding symphonic work “American Symphony,” set to premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2021 and he has been developing a broadway musical about the life of famed painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Jon balances a demanding performance schedule—which often includes his signature ‘love riot’ street parades—with public speaking engagements, masterclasses, brand partnerships, community activism, and acting roles. In the wake of George Floyd's murder and in the lead up to the election, he organized several peaceful protest marches, leading thousands in the streets of New York City. He played himself on the HBO series Tremé and appeared in Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summerand Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Jon has been featured in ad campaigns for Chase Bank, the Apple Watch, Lincoln Continental, and numerous fashion brands including Coach, Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, Frye, Kate Spade, Jack Spade, and Barney’s. He has worked with photographers Bruce Weber and Annie Leibowitz, among others, and his personal style has been profiled in numerous fashion publications including GQ, Vanity Fair, CR Fashion Book, Esquire, Instyle, and Vogue. Jon is devoted to the education and mentorship of young musicians. He has led his own Social Music Residency and Mentoring Program sponsored by Chase, as well as master classes throughout the world. He has also led several cultural exchanges, beginning in 2006, while still a teen, with the Netherlands Trust, which brought students from the USA and Holland to perform with him at The Royal Concert Gebouw and Carnegie Hall.
He’s been awarded the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award, the Harry Chapin ASCAP Humanitarian Award and appeared on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list; Batiste also currently serves as the Music Director of The Atlantic and the Co-Artistic Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and is on the board of Sing For Hope.