Jon Batiste chosen to headline Biden’s first state dinner on Dec. 1


Who dat? It’s New Orleans native Jon Batiste — quickly to be onstage on the White Home.

President Biden and first woman Jill Biden have tapped the singer, bandleader and melodica-player extraordinaire because the musical performer for his or her first official state dinner, the primary woman’s press secretary, Vanessa Valdivia, instructed The Washington Submit.

It signifies that when French President Emmanuel Macron and his spouse, Brigitte, present up because the honored company for a day of diplomacy, adopted by a lavish dinner and dancing on Thursday, they’ll be in for a real New Orleans-style get down. No phrase but on whether or not Batiste will hop on any tables, as he did to Billie Eilish’s delight at this yr’s Grammys, however he most likely can be serenading Macron together with his hit tune “Freedom” and a joyous parade of trumpets, tambourines and a mouth-piano.

“An artist who transcends generations, Jon Batiste’s music evokes and brings individuals collectively. We’re thrilled to have him carry out on the White Home for the primary state dinner of the Biden-Harris Administration,” Valdivia instructed The Submit.

Batiste’s boundless vitality and raucous performances are becoming for a White Home that’s again into social actions after two years of battling covid, rising inflation and financial woes in a midterm election yr — a background in opposition to which a glamorous dinner honoring a visiting head of state would have appeared significantly gauche. Biden continues to face some criticism, nonetheless, for declaring in September that the “pandemic is over” regardless that tons of proceed to die every day and the public is growing weary of being vigilant in opposition to covid.

However the political temper is excessive proper now. The midterms went higher than anticipated for Democrats. That is the primary yr since Biden took workplace that the White Home can have a full season of vacation events — key for low-pressure get-togethers with press, allies and antagonists alike — and to point out off the primary woman’s vacation decorations, which can be unveiled Monday.

The couple is coming off internet hosting the pre-Thanksgiving marriage ceremony of their granddaughter, Naomi Biden and fielding consternation from the White Home press corps, which was excluded from overlaying it whereas Vogue was given an unique article and picture shoot.

The Biden administration is on observe to have the fewest state dinners — sometimes deliberate by the primary woman’s workplace — of any fashionable presidency. It might want to host merely yet another to tie with former president Donald Trump, who needed to cancel his third state dinner firstly of the pandemic.

Trump’s first state dinner was additionally with Macron. The earlier president, nonetheless, perennially confronted issues getting musical acts to carry out for his occasions. For his Macron state dinner, the musical leisure was the Washington Nationwide Opera. Throughout his second state dinner for then-Australian President Scott Morrison, bands for the U.S. Military, Navy, Air Power and Marines performed.

Throughout flusher instances, former president Invoice Clinton and first woman Hillary Clinton hosted 12 state dinners throughout his first time period, and 29 general, with musical company reminiscent of Whitney Houston, Elton John and Stevie Marvel, Liza Minnelli and Earth, Wind & Hearth. The Bushes adopted with 4 in his first time period (together with one for Mexican President Vicente Fox simply days earlier than Sept. 11, 2001), and 13 general, with acts reminiscent of nation singer Kenny Chesney, violinist Itzhak Perlman and the forged of “The Lion King.”

Former president Barack Obama and first woman Michelle Obama, undoubtedly, had the hippest, most present musical company over their 13 state dinners (six in that first yr): Beyoncé, Janelle Monae, Mumford and Sons, John Legend, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Ne-Yo, Demi Lovato, Gwen Stefani and extra. Their first state dinner, for Indian President Manmohan Singh, had Jennifer Hudson performing, however was marred with tales of gate crashers.

Batiste, at 36, is arguably essentially the most acclaimed musician within the nation proper now. In April, he was nominated for 11 Grammys throughout seven classes — a primary in Grammys historical past — and gained 5 of them, together with Album of the Yr for “We Are.” Batiste has been identified to carry second line parades, with brass bands dancing within the streets, in every single place from New Orleans to New York.

Two years in the past, he gained the Oscar for Finest Unique Rating for Pixar’s “Soul,” which he wrote with fellow composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. He’s simply the third Black composer in historical past, after jazz legend Herbie Hancock and pop star Prince, to win an Academy Award for composition.

Race in America: Giving Voice with Jon Batiste

Now he’s midway to an EGOT — the time period for profitable all 4 main American leisure awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) — a coveted title that solely 17 different individuals have gained.

Batiste would be the first New Orleans act to play the White Home since former president George W. Bush had the famed Preservation Corridor Jazz Band play for Singh in 2005. Batiste left his gig as bandleader of “The Late Present With Stephen Colbert” in August to deal with his different work.

There are numerous causes for the Bidens to decide on Batiste, a local son of New Orleans who’s from a household of musicians and grew up steeped in jazz, the one true American artwork kind. However there’s additionally his connection to most cancers, a illness that has affected the Bidens deeply, and that their administration is working to eradicate.

In February of this yr, Batiste married his accomplice of eight years, Suleika Jaouad, a day earlier than her bone marrow transplant for her second bout with leukemia. Jaouad, 33, who’s going by chemotherapy and is the creator of the best-selling most cancers memoir, “Between Two Worlds,” met Batiste once they had been youngsters in band camp.

They reconnected when, throughout her first bout with most cancers, he confirmed up on the hospital with his entire band. “Each inch of the 25-room flooring was stuffed with music,” Jaouad wrote then in a column for a New York Times blog. “Timidly at first, after which with jubilation, sufferers, nurses and different hospital staff started to bop and clap.”

They had been married within the new dwelling they’d been designing for 3 years. The couple used bread ties round their fingers as a result of they hadn’t had time to get rings. They did prank calls to make it by the primary 72 hours after her transplant. The couple has two new dogs, considered one of whom harmonizes with Batiste as he performs piano.

She wore a pink wig to have fun Batiste’s birthday in November, which became an “impromptu jam that went into the wee hours,” she wrote on her Instagram.

Batiste has known as their marriage “an act of defiance” and mentioned the most cancers will not be interrupting the plans they’ve for his or her lives.

“That’s life,” Batiste instructed CBS News in April of the struggles which have come as he’s hit profession highs. “That’s it. Strap in.”

Put together for a second line on the White Home.

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