Jon Batiste at the newport folk festival

“If I could boil it down to one lesson, it’s that everything is more connected than you think. It’s not only more connected than what we’re taught, but, really, there is no separation. It’s not something that we’re able to conceptualize as musicians or as people who throw ourselves into situations where we have to figure it out. For instance, if we had to go and live in a foreign country and be among a group of people who were supposedly much more different than us, I’m sure after a few years we’d be like, “This actually isn’t that different at all — in fact, it’s the same.” That’s such a fundamental lesson about humanity, and I think music is a really great place to explore that. If we don’t figure out our own understanding of that, then all of these myths and self-imposed barriers that we’ve built up over all this time will continue to just grow and grow. We’ll evolve to become something that we’re not meant to be. I guess the biggest lesson is the same thing that I’ve always been saying as an artist: Everything is way more the same than it is different, and if you just tap into that, the more you really begin to understand what that is. That’s my quest: to de-categorize American music. Music without borders. If I can de-categorize it, then that will be a great example of art reflecting what an ideal space for humanity to live in would be.

 read the full interview in Billboard Magazine 8/6/2018