Jon Batiste made a triumphant, emotional return to work on Tuesday night (April 5) when he swapped the bandstand for the couch to chat about his huge night at the 2022 Grammy Awards while sharing a touching moment with boss and friend, show host Stephen Colbert.
“Man, it’s so much I’m still processing,” Batiste said about his feelings after winning five golden gramophones, including album of the year for We Are. “First, I thought the fact that my family was there with me to witness that is incredible. It’s incredible. Just so much went into that moment: piano lessons, some civil rights marches.”
Batiste broke down his hectic Grammy week, which he said included multiple rehearsals and a fashionably super-late arrival on Sunday night. While all but one of his wins came in the pre-broadcast portion, Batiste didn’t really get to savor those moments because his large crew and the packed production scheduled delayed his arrival.
“We were late,” he said. “We were late for the ceremony and the pre-broadcast. My whole family was with me. My grandfather was with me — he’s almost 90… he’s 89 years old. My dad, my mom, my nephews, my sister. My friend Ryan, who executive produced the record with me… and a bunch of other people I don’t quite know very well… They were hanging out. It was as whole bunch of people in the room all the time.”
He explained that when you have a night-leading 11 nominations, nobody mentions that between rehearsals for your on-air performance (of the joyous “Freedom”), sound check, walking the red carpet and wardrobe fittings you will likely miss the whole pre-telecast. Colbert gently explained that the production didn’t really plan for that because, “you were the only one with 11 nominations… you can’t expect them to change the whole day just for you,” he smiled.
Colbert then rolled the tape of Lenny Kravitz announcing the AOTY award and Batiste just had to laugh. “Man, it’s so much I’m still processing it,” Batiste said. “First off, the fact that my family is there to witness that is just incredible. It’s incredible. Just so much went into that moment: piano lessons, some civil rights marches.”
Batiste said he was still buzzing from his colorful, high-energy performance — “you could have ended the show there, you burned it to the ground,” said Colbert — and after changing out of his sweaty stage clothes he was chilling back in the audience in his bejeweled cloak catching the vibe of the room. And when he saw “Uncle Lenny” on stage getting ready to read the name of the night’s big winner he thought the rocker must have known something. “I think he had to know… because he kept looking at me. It was so surreal,” he said.
And then Batiste’s mother told him, “‘you got this one,’” and he said, “‘yeah, ma.’” In a double-down, he said Finneas and Billie Eilish turned around and said, “‘we really hope you win this one.’” But when the moment came, he almost missed it.
“And then they said, ‘We Are,’ and the people were so loud,” he recalled. “It was so loud that I almost didn’t really know it was me because they didn’t say my name until after the title. I was like, ‘Maybe that’s somebody else’s album that sounds like We Are.’” After all that, Batiste said his big celebration included going out for a meal and, mid-way through, splitting for some well-deserved sleep.
The segment ended with a sweet moment between the co-workers whose mutual admiration fills the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater every night when Colbert earnestly and lovingly congratulated Batiste on his secret marriage to longtime love Suleika Jaouad last month. “Yes!” Batiste shouted as he showed off his bling with a huge smile.
“We had a lot of private conversations about that,” Batiste said, getting emotional as Colbert laid his hand over Batiste’s. “They really helped me… and what we’re going through is such the opposite of the lights and the camera and the glitz of everything in the business,” he added of the ceremony that took place in February the day before Jaouad was admitted to a hospital to undergo a bone marrow transplant after she was diagnosed with leukemia for a second time.
“But it’s built on the same foundation, which is your love for each other,” Colbert said as the men locked eyes. “That is how they’re the same. That is how all things are the same… all things are one. And music runs through it.”
Watch Batiste recount his night on The Late Show below.