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Jon Batiste's big win at the Grammys is one more step in a boundless musical path

Jon Batiste performing a nighttime concert at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2015.
Jonathan Chimene

Jon Batiste had the most stunning victory of the night at last night’s Grammy Awards, winning the top prize, for Album of the Year.

Batiste, the New Orleans-born pianist and singer, won a total of five Grammys on Sunday. His Album of the Year win, for WE ARE, counted as an upset in a loaded category filled with competition from Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and the combined talents of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. After Batiste's win, this multi-genre performer honored the artists he beat, and added a philosophical grace note.

The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song or an album is made, and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most. I just put my head down and work on the craft every day. It’s more than entertainment to me, it’s a spiritual practice.
Jon Batiste

Batiste was profiled in a 2020 episode of Jazz Night in America. You probably know him as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert — but his credentials are deep. He's also the co-artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and has been a collaborator with everyone from pop singer Tori Kelly to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He's graduate of both the New Orleans Center of the Creative Arts and the Juilliard School, and an alumni of both Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove's bands. (He was on piano when Hargrove brought his big band into WBGO's performance studio in 2009, for a live broadcast on Afternoon Jazz.)

Read more of our Grammys coverage at wbgo.org.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.