As part of his victory lap celebrating his five Grammy Award wins, Jon Batiste took a walk from his post as bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to the couch to be interviewed as a guest.
“How was your weekend?” Stephen Colbert asked jokingly before enumerating Batiste’s multiple Grammy wins, which included Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song, Best Music Video, Best Score/Soundtrack for Visual Media, and, most notably, Album of the Year. The Late Show host then asked Batiste to walk him through the day.
“We were late,” Batiste began, before saying that his “whole family” joined him at the event, including his 89-year-old grandfather. The pianist/composer then lamented the fact that “they didn’t really work it out for you if you have 11 nominations, because if you’re performing you have to rehearse, and you have to soundcheck. You have wardrobe for that, and then that’s the same time as the pre-telecast, which is where eight of the nominations were. And then they wanted me to do all this stuff on the red carpet, and you gotta be there during the time that the pre-telecast is ending.”
“They didn’t plan for that because there was no one else for whom they had to plan that, Jon,” Colbert quipped. “You were the only one who had 11 nominations!” He then asked Batiste to recount the moment that he won Album of the Year: “What’s going on in your mind and your heart at that moment?”
“It’s so much I’m still processing it,” Batiste replied. “First off, the fact that my family is there to witness that is incredible, it’s incredible. So much went into that moment—piano lessons, civil rights marches. It’s an incredible moment.
“So that happened, but then I was also coming off the high of the performance. I was so focused on that performance. We started rehearsing for that on Wednesday, and by the time it was done there was like 20 minutes left in the show. …I changed clothes because I sweated through those clothes. I had my cloak, and I was planning on just sitting there in a vibe, and I seen Uncle Lenny [Kravitz] come up there, and I think he had to know, because he kept looking at me. …It was so surreal. And then my mom was like, ‘You got this one,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, Mom.’ …She was like, ‘I love that album,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, me too.'”
Batiste then described the mutual appreciation and support between Album of the Year nominees, which developed at rehearsals leading up to the award show: “FINNEAS and Billie [Eilish] turn around and they’re like, ‘We really hope you win this one.’ It was almost like a pod over the week, and they were so nice, and everybody was so supportive. The energy was so supportive. I was like, ‘Well, at least everybody’s gonna be on a good vibe. Whoever wins, we’ll be all just clapping for this person. It won’t be me.’ And then they said, ‘We Are’. …It was so loud 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’.”
“What did you do afterwards?” Colbert then asked. “I know you don’t drink, so how did you celebrate? Did you go play music?”
Batiste responded, “No lie, I went to eat some food and I was so tired in the middle of the meal that I left after eating the first half and went to bed.”
At the end of the interview, Colbert congratulated Batiste on his recent marriage to longtime partner Suleika Jaouad, who is battling leukemia for the second time. In a candid moment, Batiste revealed he and Colbert “had a lot of private conversations” about it beforehand. “They really helped me,” he said. “They really helped me. And what we’re going through is such the opposite of the lights and camera and the glitz of everything in the business.”
“But it’s built on the same foundation,” Colbert interrupted, “which is your love for each other. That’s how it’s the same.” He then joked, “Do you guys need anything? Are you registered anywhere? Do you need like a crockpot or a butter dish or something like that?”
Batiste responded, “We do, we need all of that. We just got a place so we gotta fill it. It’s empty. …You work so hard to get a place—the American dream—and then it’s empty so then you gotta go—”
“It’s not empty,” Colbert interrupted. “It’s got some Grammys in it.”
Watch Jon Batiste’s full interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert below.
5x GRAMMY Winner Jon Batiste Comes Home To The Late Show