Jon Batiste Talks Red Beans & Rice, New Orleans, and the Oscar-Winning 'Soul'

The Oscar-winning musician joins us on Biscuits & Jam.

Jon Batiste
Photo: Louis Brown

Jon Batiste, award-winning musician and band leader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, joins host Sid Evans to talk about his work on the animated film Soul, his friendships with Stevie Wonder and Mavis Staples, and growing up in Kenner, Louisiana. Plus, how his faith drives his creativity, and the meaning behind his new album We Are.

Get to Know Jon Batiste

By the time he was 20, Jon's piano talents had him touring Spain, Paris, and South Africa. Jon has been the bandleader for CBS' Late Show with Stephen Colbert since 2015, and his vast musical knowledge and versatile flair has allowed him to perform with everyone from Prince to Willie Nelson. Still, this past year has been Jon's busiest yet—with both a new album titled We Are, and his award-winning score for the Disney-Pixar film Soul.

What Jon Batiste Talks About in This Episode

  • Growing up in Louisiana in a musical family
  • His mom's legendary red beans and rice
  • His friendship with Stevie Wonder
  • His musical collaboration with the animated film Soul
  • His new album We Are

Quotes From Jon Batiste

"My mother's red beans and rice recipe is legendary. So many folks came over to her house in Kenner for the red beans and rice on Monday nights. I even showed that recipe to a few friends of mine and one of my friends, Nathaniel Rateliff, decided that he wanted to put it in a cookbook that he just put out."

jon batiste

"We really wanted to make the music a character in the film, and when you watch the film, the music should feel like a familiar presence, not just a backdrop… And I'm glad that the movie has resonated with so many people. After 2020, a lot of folks were feeling all sorts of ways being isolated and everything else that was going on in the world."

— jon batiste

"The church and my faith, in general, is behind all the music that I make, and I think that is something that people feel. And it's a good thing. No matter what you believe, to connect your creativity and connect your purpose to something bigger than yourself, to something that's bigger than what is good for only you and yours. My faith was instilled in me from an early age and staying close with God and staying close with him through my work is something that's always been a priority."

"Every day, I'm just trying to walk the path the way that the spirit leads me. My faith is really the thing that helps me to stay grounded and take one day at a time. And when you do that, everything falls into place the way it needs to. As long as you are connected to the source. And for me, that's God through my faith as a Christian, it's connected to that source. I think everybody—when they're walking right and they're doing the right thing in their life, they feel connected to that source."

About Biscuits & Jam

In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, editor-in-chief of Southern Living, sits down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid takes us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Stitcher.

Visit our Podcast Primer for information on how to download and listen to a podcast.

Get a transcript of the full interview with Jon Batiste.

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