Jon Batiste wins big at Grammy Awards

4 Apr

It was a big night for musician Jon Batiste, who won in five categories, including album of the year, for "We Are," beating out fellow nominees Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift.

With the album, written just prior to the death of George Floyd and mass Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the US in 2020, Batiste said he wanted to offer messages of "hope and community."

Music finds 'people when they need it the most'

"I believe this to my core: There is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor," the singer-wongwriter and social justice activist said in his acceptance speech. "The creative arts are subjective and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It's like a song or an album is made, and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most," he added.

Batiste also won a Grammy for his song ''Cry," for the music video for "Freedom" and for his work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the soundtrack for the Pixar movie "Soul," which in 2021 already won the team an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

"Life has ups and downs — and sometimes the ups and the downs occur at the same time," the winning musician told reporters, referring to the fact that his partner, 33-year-old author Suleika Jaouad, is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment for her second battle with leukemia. "And when you have that happening, it really lets you know, by shaking your consciousness and saying, 'Be present. Be here.'" 

Batiste — who went into the evening with 11 nominations, more than any other artist — is a multi-genre musician who was raised in a prominent jazz family in New Orleans, attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City and has since released numerous albums. He has been a mainstay in the music scene for years, most notably leading the house band of Stephen Colbert's late-night program, "The Late Show." After the evening's success, he is likely to become a household name.

Three Grammys for Olivia Rodrigo

Despite her seven nominations, Billie Eilish went home empty-handed, while 19-year-old pop singer Olivia Rodrigo celebrated her Grammy debut with three wins: best new artist, best pop vocal album for ''Sour" and best pop solo performance for her teenage heartbreak hit, "drivers licence."

"This is my biggest dream come true," Rodrigo said after her best new artist win. She thanked her parents for supporting her dreams, which at one point involved being an Olympic gymnast.

Four awards for Silk Sonic

The musical duo Silk Sonic, comprised of all-stars Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, took home awards in all four categories they were nominated in. The duo opened the ceremony with their danceable soul-funk song "777" and came back to stage a bit later to collect the song of the year trophy for "Leave the Door Open."

Both Mars and .Paak jumped out their seat, threw up their hands and danced to their song. "We'll be singing this song together for the rest of our lives," Anderson .Paak said. Later, the duo won the prize in another of the main categories, record of the year. "We are really trying to hard to remain humble," said .Paak. "But in the industry we call that a clean sweep!" he said grinning. Bruno Mars joined Paul Simon as the only other artist to have won the Grammy for record of the year three times.

President Zelenskyy gives address

The ongoing war in Ukraine was also addressed during the evening. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy appeared in a pre-recorded message, urging viewers to "support us in any way you can. Any, but not silence." "On our land we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story," he added. 

John Legend then performed a new song, "Free," with Ukrainian artists Mika Newton, Siuzanna Iglidan and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk. The Recording Academy also urged viewers to donate to help Ukraine and to join Global Citizen's #StandUpForUkraine campaign.

Rap, K-pop and more

Other notable winners of the evening included Doja Cat and SZA, who won best pop duo-group performance for their upbeat track "Kiss Me More." West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar and his cousin Baby Keem won best rap performance for their song "Family Ties" — making it the first win for Keem and the 14th Grammy for Lamar.

Justin Bieber, Nas and Olivia Rodrigo also took to the stage, while K-pop band BTS gave a James Bond-inspired performance of their English-language track "Butter." Lady Gaga, meanwhile, did her rendition of "Love for Sale," dedicated to her collaborator Tony Bennett, who was not present.


Author Sarah Hucal

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