‘It’s The Same Jon-Jon’: Jon Batiste Talks ‘Freedom’ and ‘We Are’ Ahead of Major Grammy Wins

Speaking with Rolling Stone backstage at rehearsals for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, Jon Batiste highlighted “Boy Hood,” a cut from his 2021 album We Are where he sings: “If you see him then and even if ya see him now / It’s the same Jon Jon with that same gold crown, you heard me?”

“As incredible of an achievement it is to have 11 nominations, I’m thinking about my younger self,” Batiste says. “I think he would probably say, “Wow, that’s amazing and it’s so great that you’re still that same.” Because a lot of times, I think this business can change people.”

“That’s a goal of mine, more than winning a Grammy, more than all of that,” he says. “Stay true to that core – that inner child, that spirit that you’ve been given from birth. Take care of that and also evolve but the core of that is who you are. Don’t let any of that pull you away from that. Otherwise, 11 nominations doesn’t mean anything.”

After last night’s ceremony, he’s still the same Jon, with a couple more gold trophies to go along with his gold crown. Nominated for the most awards of the night (11 in total), Batiste took home five Grammys including Album of the Year for We Are, a win so surprising that even he couldn’t hide the shock from his face.

“There’s such a real blessing over this project, this album, from the day that we started,” Batiste told Rolling Stone while gearing up for a colorful performance of his song “Freedom.” “What it’s done in the world and the things that it has created in our lives — the community, the people who we are now connected with — now, we have a family atmosphere in everything that we’re doing, whether it’s the album creation or the music videos or the live shows, festival shows, this rehearsal.”

Aside from Album of the Year, Batiste collected his four other awards during the Grammys Premiere ceremony, the pre-show event where most of the awards are handed out. He also won Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for “Cry” in addition to sharing a Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their work on Disney and Pixar’s Soul.