On Tuesday (Nov. 23), the Recording Academy revealed its nominations for the 2022 Grammys during an hourlong livestream. Multi-hyphenate Jon Batiste — musician, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert bandleader, composer and more — was among a handful of artists who helped announce nominees across various genre-specific fields.
By the end of the stream — which he was watching from his New York living room with friends who worked on the album and his partner Suleika Jaouad — he was the most nominated artist of them all.
Batiste earned 11 nominations, including two in the Big Four categories for record of the year (“Freedom”) and album of the year for his March release We Are. Batiste also landed nominations for best traditional R&B performance (“I Need You”), best American roots performance (“Cry”), best soundtrack for visual media (Soul) and best music video (“Freedom”), plus four more.
He says while a “lifetime of work” has led to this moment, it’s “hard to put into words” how he felt following the news. “It’s astonishment, shock, awe, gratefulness,” he says, adding that he had no clue what was to come when announcing other nominations earlier in the livestream.
“Literally, nothing else was on my mind other than trying to pronounce and respect everyone’s name and project,” he says with a laugh. “Oh my goodness, as someone who comes from a very diverse cultural background, you gotta respect that.”
Collecting 11 nods holds special meaning for Batiste, who tweeted earlier Tuesday that he was born on 11/11 and says the number has always been recurring in his life. “It’s not only my lucky number, it’s literally representative of so much — and to get 11 [nominations] feels predestined.”
Even so, he says he never thought about awards or recognition while recording or releasing his eighth album We Are. “It was more [about] an artistic outcome that was a rebirth, a realization of trying to put genreless music that is fully authentic together — and trying to do that for so many years — and then it clicking and lining up with a time in the world where music really felt like the soundtrack to the times,” he says.
“I want to give props to everybody for changing the process at the Grammys to try and make it about art and inclusivity and just focus on the music,” he adds, “because to make something that’s so authentic and for it to be recognized in all of these different genre categories and general categories is just an incredible, incredible feeling.”
Now, he’s thrilled even more people will revisit or perhaps discover the album that means so much to him as a result of the nominations. “It was something that came from such a deep place,” he says of We Are. “It’s way bigger than me. I make music that makes people feel like they’re not alone in the world [and pulls] people into the realization of what music is beyond entertainment or a business plan. It’s so much more.”
Within less than an hour of the nominations being revealed, Batiste says he had heard from his label and some artist friends, including fellow Grammy nominee Brandi Carlile. “I talked to her for a minute. She had a great year at the Grammys a few years ago so she was just like, ‘Wow, I think you broke my record. It’s a crazy record you just made,'” he says. “I haven’t even really let it sunk in.”
Should Batiste come home with all 11 Grammys following the Jan. 31, 2022 ceremony, he says he’ll have to expand his awards shelving — which he already did following the 2020 release of Pixar’s Soul, which he contributed jazz compositions to. “I think it’s good for your eventual kids, if I’m blessed to have that and see that, and my nephews [to see my awards],” he says. “It’s a good inspiration. It’s like, ‘Oh wow — and I know him! He gave me the applesauce.’ That’s a great vibe.”
But until then, he plans to stay planted in the present. “Just keep your head down and keep working,” he says while on his way in to work to tape Colbert like any other day. “Everything else will fall into place.”