Jon Batiste is about to have a whole lot more “Freedom.” The musician and bandleader is leaving The Late Show With Stephen Colbert after seven seasons of leading the house band, his group Stay Human. Batiste had taken the summer off to focus on his solo career after a surprise showing at the Grammys this year, where he was nominated for 11 awards and won five — including Album of the Year for We Are. Colbert announced the news of Batiste’s departure on August 11, saying that guitarist and interim bandleader Louis Cato would assume that role fully. “I hope he’s cutting his new album, and I hope it’s called More Grammys, Please,” Colbert joked of Batiste. “We’re happy for you, Jon,” he added, “and I can’t wait to have you back on as a guest with your next hit record.”
Batiste was handpicked by Colbert to join The Late Show when the comedian took it over in 2015. Leaving the show won’t just give Batiste more time to record music and work on projects like writing the score to Soul, which won him an Oscar in 2021. It could give him the time to tour, something he hasn’t been able to do extensively with his bandleader role. But the real question is: If Batiste can earn 11 Grammy nods in one night while balancing The Late Show, what can he do as a full-time soloist?