Jon Batiste’s New Album “We Are” is a Black Pop Masterpiece

by Natasha Melina

You may know Grammy-nominated artist Jon Batiste as longtime bandleader and musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, or quite possibly for his Golden Globe winning work on Disney Pixar’s latest film Soul , but if you’re going to know him for anything – let it be for his soulful music. Let it be for the experience you have when his music speaks to you and takes over your body until you find yourself dancing or crying. 


The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter began developing his love for music at a young age as he would hear his father playing bass. Born and raised in Louisiana, Jon Batiste says growing up in the south provides a slow pace to life that allows time to reflect on life. In Louisiana specifically, he mentions that there are worlds of different cultures that cannot be compared. Being immersed in music and culture for most of his life, Batiste was able to find his purpose in the music world as he constantly discusses social justice topics in his music and through the platform he has built for himself. 



The New Orleans native says “music changes the way people’s emotions and thoughts happen. There’s a feeling of community when there’s music. I think music has always been a social glue and if you get people together and make people feel the same emotion at the same time, it’s a lot easier to open dialogue. That’s why people have been musical ambassadors throughout centuries, music has even been used in the civil rights movement when Dr. Martin Luther king marched with singers.”


In Jon Batiste’s album “We Are” which has been released today, he takes us on an emotional journey. Batiste says it best when he calls the album “expansive in terms of sound. It’s genreless, I can’t even put it in a category of music. I guess it’s like a black pop masterpiece.” Each song on the album has a completely different message and vibe to it. Some are happier upbeat tunes that will surely get you off your feet while others have more serious notes and get you thinking. 



Sharing more about “We Are,” Batiste describes it as “a novel and if you close your eyes it’s a movie. It’s meant to be listened to like a novel, you don’t skip chapters or you won’t know what happened. Every piece tells different parts of a story and my story is in the middle of it. There’s songs where I’m rapping, there’s songs like the music video of I Need You where I’m doing a lindy hop dance which is like a Harlem 1930s dance mixed with modern dance. Cry is a folk song with black farmer families, my family goes back four or five generations of black farmers in the south.” 

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