NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — It’s impossible to listen to Jon Batiste’s groove-filled album “We Are” and not come away happier from the experience.
The eye-catching collection, steeped in some of New Orleans’ finest musical traditions, has been a powerhouse since its March 2021 drop. It’s only seen more exposure in the past three weeks since its single “Freedom ” was used as a bouncing step. Madness theme song in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament coverage.
But on Sunday night in Las Vegas, the album has a chance to propel its creator into an even higher stratosphere of stardom and success. Born in Metairie and raised in Kenner, Batiste is heading for music’s biggest award show with 11 Grammy nominations in six notable genre areas to lead all performers.
Batiste, 35, has previously earned TV success as the bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and cachet as the Oscar-winning composer for Best Original Score for the 2020 Disney and Pixar animated film Soul ( with collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross).
But The Recording Academy’s recognition for the music industry’s highest honor has so far eluded the St. Augustine High and NOCCA product. Previous Batiste was nominated for three Grammys but never won. Eight of his nominations this year come from “We Are” and the other three are related to “Soul”.
If Batiste won in eight categories on Sunday night, he would tie Michael Jackson and The Santana Group for the most in a single year. But he faces fierce competition in several categories, including Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo.
Thanks to her song “Happier Than Ever”, Eilish could become the first artist to win the record of the year three times in a row, and the only artist with Paul Simon to win the award three times. She is in a position to join Adele as the only artist to have won three major categories – record, song and album of the year – twice. She has already won for “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted”.
If Eilish wins in all seven of her nominated categories, she’ll be the woman with the most Grammys won in a single year (HER, Doja Cat and Rodrigo could do the same). The competition for the show’s top prize – Album of the Year – has been expanded this year to 10 nominees.
Eilish is up for best musical film with her concert documentary “Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles.” But competing in that same category is Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s “Summer of Soul,” which won the Best Documentary Oscar last week.
Rodrigo has the opportunity to join Eilish and Christopher Cross as the only artists to win all four major categories (Best New Artist, Album, Record and Song of the Year). The 19-year-old “driver’s license” singer could follow Eilish’s remarkable record by becoming the second-youngest album of the year with “Sour.”
Each poses a formidable threat to Batiste in the album and record of the year categories, but he could stand out in the realms of jazz, American roots music and classical.
On Sunday, the speculative website www.goldderby.com had Eilish as the 10-1 favorite to win the album of the year trophy, followed by Rodrigo (11-1), Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga for ‘Love for Sale at 12-1, Lil Nas X for “Montero” at 14-1, HER for “Back of My Mind” at 14-1 and Batiste tied at 15-1 with Taylor Swift for “Evermore”.
For Record of the Year, Batiste was listed as the ninth pick with odds of 20-1 for “Freedom,” while Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” at 10-1 and Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” and “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic at 23-2 were analysts’ favorites.
HER, who won Song of the Year last year for “I Can’t Breathe,” could follow suit. She’s nominated this year for the moving “Fight for You,” whose poignant lyrics from the “Judas and the Black Messiah” soundtrack were penned by HER, producer D’Mile and singer Tiara Thomas. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song last year.
The awards, hosted for the second time by comedian Trevor Noah, will be without several big names: Drake and The Weeknd have both decided not to participate in the Grammys at all. Ye, who changed his name from Kanye West, said he was told his number was taken off the show.
There could also be a bittersweet moment for the Foo Fighters, should they attend the show, following the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins last month. Dave Grohl’s band could extend their record for most Best Rock Album wins with five if “Medicine at Midnight” turns out to be the academy’s pick.
Among those scheduled to perform at the show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena are Silk Sonic, HER, Chris Stapleton, Cynthia Erivo, Jack Harlow, Nas, Leslie Odom Jr. and Brothers Osborne.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include the title.
Copyright 2022 WVUE. All rights reserved.