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Jon Batiste Set To Join ‘The Color Purple’ Cast

The Grammy and Oscar-winning artist will make his acting debut in the upcoming film.

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Jon Batiste - Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Jon Batiste - Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Singer, songwriter, composer, and bandleader Jon Batiste will make his acting debut in director Blitz Bazawule’s upcoming remake of The Color Purple. In the film, Batiste will play the character of Shug Avery’s (Taraji P. Henson) husband Grady. According to Variety, Grady is a “piano man” type and “the epitome of charm and eloquence.”

Adapted from the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple centers around Celie (played by Fantasia Barrino), a Southern Black woman trying to find her place and self-worth in the early 1900s. The coming-of-age story was first adapted into a film in 1985. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the original production starred Whoopi Goldberg (who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama), Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover.

Others set to appear in the 2022 edition of the film include Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Ciara, Elizabeth Marvel, David Alan Grier, Tamala J. Mann, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Deon Cole, Stephen Hill, Louis Gossett Jr., and Aunjanue Ellis.

The announcement of Batiste’s latest role comes on the heels of his victorious night at the Grammys, where he took home five awards, including Best Music Video (“Freedom”) and Album of the Year for his critically-acclaimed eighth studio LP, WE ARE. But Batiste, who also serves as the bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, is no stranger to Hollywood. In 2020, he won an Oscar for Best Original Score for his musical contributions on Disney’s acclaimed animated feature, Soul.

“I’m very proud of Album of the Year because it’s not about ‘He’s this guy who makes R&B or classical music or jazz’ or whatever,” Batiste told Vulture. “It’s ‘He made this body of expression, and we believe that it’s worth being recognized.’ I love the fact that you got folks like Tony Bennett, who is in his 90s, nominated and it’s not about age. It’s not about race, it’s not about gender.”

Earlier this month, Batiste performed at the Recording Academy’s 31st annual MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala, in honor of Joni Mitchell. He also served as the event’s artistic director, alongside Brandi Carlile.

Buy or stream WE ARE.

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