The New Orleans-bred, New York-based musician, educator and humanitarian is somewhat of an enigma thanks to his diverse mix of influences. Born into a long lineage of Louisiana musicians, Batiste grew up playing percussion in his family’s band before switching to piano when he was 11 years old. He went on to study at the Juilliard School and formed his band, Stay Human, soon after.

Now he balances a demanding international performance schedule—which often includes his signature, impromptu ‘love riot’ street parades—with his role as the music director and bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as well as Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and occasional acting gigs, like playing himself on the HBO series Treme or his most recent role in director Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer.

He has recorded and/or performed with various artists including The Soul Rebels, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Buffet, and Questlove. He was also a featured member of the 2008 NBA All-Star Game halftime show. He as the youngest artist, performing alongside Allen Toussaint, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, and Davell Crawford.

 

 

 

HOW MUSIC CAN UNITE AMERICA RIGHT NOW

"If we want to change anything in the world, music is going to be our jumping off point." There's always been a sound for every movement in history. That's the idea of what Social Music can be: the soundtrack and the energy of people who go out and try to love more. Bringing together people who would never come together otherwise is a means of shedding light on the fact that we are all the same more than we are different. And if more people came together like this, even to just sing and dance, it would make all of these things that we're facing socially in the world a lot better. Batiste discusses how people of different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds can be separated by things on the surface, but actually, everybody's pretty much the same.

A 'LOVE RIOT' MUSICAL JOURNEY THROUGH BLACK HISTORY

Jonathan Batiste takes us on a musical journey, educating us through a chronological order of musical origins. From the sound of the drum circle in Africa to the bluegrass played in the Appalachians, Jonathan uses his incredible talent to demonstrate the historical significance of black music in American history—even the role it plays today.

 

This radiant charisma and uncanny ability to collapse the distance between a jazz band and skeptical, uninitiated audience make the 30 year-old artist the ideal figure to bring new life to late-night television.
— Smithsonian Magazine