Together with his second studio album, “We Are,” the jazz pianist Jon Batiste sought to make music with out style, a mission that may not appear to align with an awards present constructed round agency classes.
However the boundary-bending strategy of Batiste’s newest work paid off within the nominations for the sixty fourth annual Grammy Awards: He earned essentially the most nominations with 11, masking R&B, American roots and jazz.
Eight of the nominations got here from “We Are,” together with album and file of the 12 months for his observe “Freedom,” which additionally acquired a nomination for finest music video. (He filmed it in his New Orleans hometown.) Three had been for his work on the Pixar film “Soul,” which received an Academy Award earlier this 12 months for finest rating.
Batiste, 35, seems nightly because the bandleader on “The Late Present With Stephen Colbert,” and over the past 12 months and a half, he has turn into a well-recognized face throughout instances of disaster. When the pandemic shut down indoor performing arts venues, Batiste performed within the open air. And when protesters hit the streets after the homicide of George Floyd final 12 months to rally in opposition to racism and police violence, Batiste staged a collection of protest concert events, main crowds of individuals in track.
Batiste chatted in a telephone interview shortly after the nominations had been introduced on Tuesday. The next are edited excerpts from the dialog.
With “We Are,” you got down to make an album that didn’t match into anybody style, and in consequence, you had been nominated in three genres, in addition to the overall classes. Did your mission for the album succeed?
It was so rewarding to be nominated in a number of classes and a number of genres. And naturally, for the 2 massive classes within the normal subject. I’ve at all times made an effort to indicate that the genres are all related, identical to folks in all of our lineages are related. I’ve stated that many instances, and it simply feels so nice for it to be acknowledged on music’s largest stage.
How does it really feel to be essentially the most nominated artist in any style?
My goodness, I’m so over the moon. We made this album all through the pandemic and we had so many issues happening. We recorded the soundtrack and the rating for “Soul” in the course of the pandemic. It was a lot. You at all times put your blood, sweat and tears into the craft of creating an album, but it surely was doubly so throughout that point.
You launched an early iteration of the title observe, “We Are,” in June 2020 as you had been in the course of crafting the album. Why did you make that call?
“We Are” is a track that options my grandfather, who’s an unimaginable activist. He’s any individual who grew up in the course of the Memphis sanitation strike. He was a protester, he was any individual who principally fought for the rights for me to have the ability to be the place I’m right now. And he’s on the file.
The lyrics in that file reference all the issues that we had been combating to take care of in the course of the protest for Black lives. So it was actually simply a kind of issues the place I made the track, not understanding that the second would come for the track earlier than the album was completed.
Did the expertise of performing the track within the context of protests form the ultimate model that was nominated for the Grammy? Did it evolve any extra after that?
No, it truly didn’t as a result of it was already a lot of the spirit of the second. I didn’t need to do something to it.
Over the previous 12 months and a half, you’ve spent lots of time taking part in open air for the general public, whether or not at protests in the summertime of 2020 or roaming performances throughout a few of the worst months of the pandemic. How did these occasions change the way you see your self as an artist?
It made me understand that music is greater than the leisure construction, it’s greater than commerce, it’s greater than a advertising and marketing or marketing strategy. Music is one thing that’s used from the start of time, going all the best way again to the primary communities, as glue inside communities, as a part of the material of on a regular basis life. It brings folks collectively and it’s used as one thing to transmit knowledge from generations, to go on traditions and provides folks hope. It connects us to the sacred, the divine. I’m not in opposition to music as leisure, however I feel if we keep in mind the origin of what music is all about and what it may be used for, it could be very helpful on this time.
You’ve additionally stated that the album displays the passage of your life to date. What does the album say about the place you had been in your life whenever you recorded it?
It’s me coming into myself. You undergo this strategy of resurrection as an artist, you undergo a beginning and a rebirth and a rebirth and also you’re continually turning into. And I used to be at this transitional level and the album was a time stamp of that second of being reborn. So I actually consider that after I look again on this album in 15, 20, 30 years — God keen — I’ll be capable to, to understand it another way, as a result of I’ll have gone by comparable rebirths, however none would be the identical.