Making GRAMMYs History: Jon Batiste and the Importance of Celebrating Black Culture


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//As someone who holds themselves in high regard with the know-hows and the who-haws of the music industry, I have to say, I was quite ashamed of myself not knowing or truly understanding the work of Jon Batiste. I was vaguely familiar with his work-ethic when it came to the composing of Pixar’s jazz-epic Soul soundtrack …

but I think the GRAMMYs slapped the music knowledge outta me with this redefinition of what it means to be a musician.

After entering the esteemed night with 11 nominations – let’s take a moment and share that for a while – Batiste came away with the Grammy’s top prize::: receiving album of the year honours.

What perhaps made it such an emphatic win was that he was against some of the biggest music industry icons we see today. Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish, Kanye West (Ye) –

highly established artists whose names have become nothing short of a trademark.

The album itself, noted as WE ARE, is the very being of creativity. Practicing, learning, sharing and growing. After bringing some collaborative friends along the ride (20+) , he decided to build a studio in his dressing room at the renowned Ed Sullivan Theatre and create WE ARE in a matter of days. Six to be exact. This brought forward a seminal masterpiece that has redefined the public performance works of black pop American music.

I wouldn’t say that the music itself is anything revolutionary as it charters familiarities of Bruno Mars’ Funkadelia and Tyler the Creator’s uncouth experimentalism. But more so, the production, creative space and the message of such a piece of work has perhaps resulted in him earning the esteemed prize.

Ultimately, the work of Batiste is simply about feeling good as a collective, and honing in on traditional and true New Orleans roots. I think this was why it was simply to good to pass up. Simple collaborations of rehearsing and jamming celebrating the majesty of Black musicians performing freely right from the ‘art’ and soul of New Orleans.

Cut through the mud and get right to the heart of why we do what we do. For the love of it all.

WE ARE celebrates black American culture and the progressive journey of what exactly Black people have gone through. Despite black culture being celebrated among us, black people themselves have often been marginalised in many different ways. Songs like “FREEDOM” and “CRY” denote this so impulsively.

This win from Batiste makes him the first black person to earn the top spot since Herbie Hancock in 2008. If that says anything about breaking down the status-quo of culture generalisation, then I don’t know what else will.\\

2 responses to “Making GRAMMYs History: Jon Batiste and the Importance of Celebrating Black Culture”

  1. EclecticMusicLover avatar

    Nice write-up and tribute to Jon Batiste, Alex. I haven’t heard the entire album, but love the tracks “I Need You” and “Freedom”, and am happy he won for Best Album. He’s an incredibly creative and talented artist, and from what I’ve seen, a wonderful human being too. Now listening to all of ‘WE ARE’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. manvmusic avatar

      Yeah, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy his music. So full of life and love, you can just feel it. I’m loving how real it is and I’m even more happy that such an awards show like the Grammys saw and appreciated that too! Fab fab fab. Also, his work on Pixar’s “Soul” soundtrack is simply out of this world. Love, love, LOVE.

      Liked by 2 people

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