While Jon Batiste is an essential part of Stephen Colbert’s in-house band, he proved he can also shine as a solo artist.
The Stay Human bandleader played “Don’t Stop” off his debut album Hollywood Africans on The Late Show Wednesday night (Sept. 26). His album shares a name with a 1983 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, whom he’s also composing a Broadway musical about.
Batiste began his song by playing eerie chords on a piano painted against a dark background. The camera then zoomed out to reveal a cellist, and soon the rest of the stringed orchestra joined him.
Batiste produced “Don’t Stop” alongside T Bone Burnett with the lights out for three days in a church-turned-studio in New Orleans. While this setting explains the spooky sound, it also allowed him to be vulnerable.
“These days, stuff is very, very tough to deal with. I want people to have a meditation that doesn’t result in despair but hope,” he told Colbert.
Batiste followed his performance of “Don’t Stop” with a dreamy, piano-driven rendition of “What A Wonderful World” that was uploaded to the show’s YouTube channel. Similarly to the first song, the room was initially dark, illuminated by a single blue spotlight. As the song progressed, his voice grew stronger and the atmosphere took on a fiery glow.
Hollywood Africans will be available everywhere this Friday (Sept. 28). Check out Batiste’s stint as a musical guest on Colbert below.