This year’s leading Grammy nominee Jon Batiste soared past his heavyweight competition to win the coveted Album of the Year award for “We Are” – a triumph for the jazz and R&B artist with less global name recognition than his pop star peers.
Batiste – a bandleader and television personality, whose previous prizes include an Oscar for his soundtrack to the Pixar animated movie “Soul” – surprised Grammy watchers by scoring 11 nominations this year, the most of any artist.
He cleaned up with five awards, the most of any artist this year.
“We Are” is his eighth studio album, which was largely written and recorded prior to both the pandemic and 2020’s mass Black Lives Matter protests but featured prescient lyrics touching on relevant themes.
Batiste, the longtime musical director of the popular “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” has emerged in recent years as a voice of social justice and protest.
The Black artist born into a prominent New Orleans music dynasty had been nominated for three Grammys in past years but never won.
At this year’s ceremony, he was up for awards in a wide range of categories and genres, including R&B, jazz and contemporary classical.
Beyond Album of the Year, he won for best music video, best score soundtrack for visual media for “Soul”, best American roots performance and best American roots song.