“From my studies at the Juilliard School and my performance experience performing on Steinway pianos both in the USA and abroad, I have begun to realize just how compatible Steinway pianos are with the pianist who is not only a pianist but an artist just the same. It is of epic importance for the instrument an artist chooses to reflect just as much character, soul, expressiveness and dedication as the artist who plays them. A Steinway piano is that piano.”
There’s something utterly awe-inspiring about Jon Batiste’s combination of exuberant charisma, jaw-dropping talent and dapper sense of style. In a flash, he transitions from belting a note to busting a dance move to wailing on the “harmonaboard” — a kind of harmonica and keyboard — to commanding the piano with virtuosic skill and artistry.
The New Orleans-bred, New York-based musician, educator and humanitarian is somewhat of an enigma thanks to his diverse mix of influences. Born into a long lineage of Louisiana musicians, Batiste grew up playing percussion in his family’s band before switching to piano when he was 11 years old. He went on to study at the Juilliard School and formed his band, Stay Human, soon after. Now he balances a demanding international performance schedule—which often includes his signature, impromptu ‘love riot’ street parades — with his role as bandleader for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, as well as occasional acting gigs. He plays himself on the HBO series Treme, and most recently appeared in director Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer.
Batiste has been a Steinway Artist since 2008.
Photos: Betsy Newman