New Orleans’ own Jon Batiste has a lot to sing about these days. The world-renowned musician and current bandleader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is adding another title to his ever-growing resume, one that was created expressly for him. In addition to his current duties, Batiste was named Music Director of The Atlantic where he will team up with the publication’s editors to cover a wide range of projects and subject matters.
First up on his plate was the opportunity to reimagine “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which was first published in The Atlantic in 1862 and is currently the theme song of the publication’s Radio Atlantic weekly podcast. Batiste’s version of the classic song debuted back in July and features the multitalented musician handling piano, percussion and vocal duties.
Batiste took the magazine’s online platform to give readers a peak into the process of creating his reworked version. “I wanted the listener to hear the spirits of our heroes in the melody,” he wrote in the piece. “When the lyrics were sung, I wanted the sacred context of the music to be present, as well as the blended styles of singing, from that of the Black Indians of Louisiana to that of the southern gospel tradition.”
He also expressed his excitement about the opportunity, referring to it as an honor before offering up a bit of advice for anyone who could use it. “Keep marching to the beat of that drum, no matter what the opposition brings your way,” he added. “His truth is marching on.”