We at Sing for Hope love it when (the) TIME is right! Congratulations to our beloved friend, early believer, and longtime Sing for Hope Board Member Jon Batiste on being justly honored as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People! As one of our longest serving Board Members, Jon has been a vital part of the evolution of Sing for Hope for over a decade, and his influence resonates across our youth programs to our healing arts work to, of course, The Sing for Hope Pianos on our city streets.
Upon learning of the honor this week, Jon shared, “I’m humbled to be a part of this group and for the encouraging words from my hero Quincy Jones. A big part of life is about how we use whatever influence we have to make the world better once we’re gone. I will always give it my all to leave a profound and meaningful legacy. Thank you to everyone who ever believed in me and to all the ancestors for their inspiration.”
Read on for Quincy Jones’ eloquent tribute, and see Jon and the full list of honorees here: time.com/time100
When I was studying composition with the famed music teacher Nadia Boulanger, one of the many lessons she imparted upon me was that “an artist can never be more or less than they are as a human being.” So, it is no great surprise to me that Jon Batiste—now the proud owner of five Grammy Awards and an Oscar—has found all of the success that he has so early in his career.
I first became aware of Jon’s extraordinary talent the year before he landed the gig as bandleader and musical director of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. When I heard that he had New Orleans roots, it all made perfect sense to me. As the birthplace of jazz and the blues—the music that the world has adopted as its Esperanto—New Orleans holds a special and sacred place in our culture. Jon has a particularly keen understanding of that rich cultural history and an awareness of the importance of carrying that history forward. He has taken all of that foundational knowledge about our music and made it his own, unafraid to stretch himself as an artist and continually evolve.
What I love most about Jon as an artist and human being, though, is that he has handled his success with grace, and his creativity with humility. It is all of these attributes that will allow him to continue to grow and accomplish all that he sets out to. And I, for one, am excited for the future that he has ahead of him.
We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Jones. Congrats and love to you, Jon!