Jon Batiste leaves Stephen Colbert's 'The Late Show' after seven years as bandleader

·2 min read
Jon Batiste performs a medley at the 31st annual MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala honoring Joni Mitchell on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Jon Batiste performs a medley at the 31st MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala honoring Joni Mitchell in Las Vegas. (Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

Five months after winning big at the 2022 Grammys, Jon Batiste is stepping away from his post as bandleader for Stephen Colbert's "The Late Show."

Colbert announced the news during Thursday night's show.. Although Batiste wasn’t in attendance, Colbert talked up his contributions.

"Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed that Jon hasn't been here this summer," Colbert said. "I have an update: Jon has decided to leave the show."

"I know, I feel the same way," Colbert said after an "aw" from the crowd. "But it's for all the best reasons, including to continue sharing his art with the world. We wanted to give him a big in-person sendoff, [musician-in-residence, the Eagles'] Joe Walsh was going to pop out of a cake — but Jon's not in town. I hope he's cutting his new album, and I hope it's called 'More Grammys Please.'"

Batiste ran the band for seven years but the news may not come as a surprise because of his absence during the summer. Louis Cato, another Grammy-winning musician who has been filling in for Batiste, will become the permanent bandleader, Colbert announced.

“We’ve been so lucky to have a front-row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years," Colbert said. "Will we miss him here? Yeah! But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back on as a guest with your next hit record.”

Batiste hasn't yet spoken about his departure. In a 2021 interview with The Times ahead of the Grammys, he touched on how joining the show persuaded him to finally sign a record deal, after hoping to remain independent.

“Because of the TV show, I wasn’t gonna be able to tour nearly as much as I had, so I figured I may as well sign a record deal," he said.

In March, Batiste led the pack with five Grammy wins, including album of the year. Batiste also won American roots performance, American roots song and music video, along with score soundtrack for visual media, thanks to his work on the animated film "Soul."

The month prior, he married his wife Suleika Jaouad, who is battling leukemia, at their new home.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.