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Jon Batiste on not following trends and betting on himself after Grammy success

Jon Batiste (John Locher/AP)
Jon Batiste (John Locher/AP)

Jon Batiste has said that he does not try to follow trends but will “always bet” on his own work following his success at the Grammys last week.

The 35-year-old musician picked up five Grammy Awards from 11 nominations, including the coveted gong for album of the year for his 2021 record We Are.

His success at one of the biggest nights in music has helped propel his work – which spans several genres including R&B, jazz, American roots music and classical – into the limelight.

Speaking to People magazine about his music, Batiste said: “The performance and all of the things that allowed people to really enjoy the music were always there all along.

“The music was always what it was over a year ago when it came out. I just think that people needed something to contextualize it.”

He added: “I’ve always bet on myself. I’ve never really played the game of trying to follow trends.”

The multi-genre performer and recent Oscar winner feels that this is only the beginning of a “journey” of sharing his work with many more people.

Batiste was nominated in 11 categories – the most of any act – an achievement he was proud of as it is the most nods since Michael Jackson’s classic 1982 album Thriller.

He said: “That album — Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, those are people, obviously who I’ve studied and learned so much from, so that was the win already for me.”

On the night, he also won the best American roots performance prize and best American roots song for his song Cry, best music video for his track Freedom and best score soundtrack for visual media for the 2020 Disney-Pixar film Soul.

The musician noted that his youngest and oldest family members were also in the audience of the award show with his seven-year-old nephew and his almost 90-year-old grandfather in attendance.

He explained: “My granddad looked at me and he said, ‘This is a once in a lifetime moment for me.’

“He wasn’t even talking about me winning, he was talking about him being able to be there.

“And after all the life he lived to look at me and be like, ‘Wow, this is actually happening and this is my grandson and all of these things that we put on the line and sacrifice, he’s now winning the biggest award in music, and I’m here to witness it.’ That was special.”

Batiste said his ambitions for the future are to do “anything creative with good people that are dedicated to the craft”.

“I’m constantly working. I’m constantly creating, I’m constantly trying to find that thing that is the muse that drives me”, he added.

“I don’t want to limit any of the possibilities. I definitely want to make more music, but anything as long as it’s with the right people and it feels aligned.”

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