jon batiste set to meet basquiat on broadway

September 28, 2018
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Jon Batiste is a New Orleans-raised, Juilliard-educated pianist/composer born into one of the Crescent City’s royal musical clans, whose music embraces everything from concert hall classical, to juke-joint funk, a pedigree that, in 2015, helped make him the bandleader/musical director of The Late Show With Steven Colbert. Batiste’s raw energy feels in perpetual supply, enabling him to also work as an artistic director at Harlem’s National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and a role on the Emmy-nominated HBO show Treme. Now  comes word that Batiste is bringing his impeccable talents to Broadway, to develop a musical based on the life of legendary New York artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Lisane and Jeanine Basquiat, the late painter’s sisters and the executors of his estate, say that “Over the years, many people have approached us about telling our brother’s story on stage.” But the creative team of Batiste and John Doyle, director of the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, “piqued” their interest, “We understood that their approach to telling our brother’s story treats his life, his art and his legacy with respect and passion. We are thrilled with the possibilities. We cannot wait to begin the developmental process. Broadway is a new world for us, and we are looking forward to sharing our brother’s life and art.”

Also on the team that will help Batiste and Doyle bring Basquiat’s life to the stage are Dear Evan Hanson producers Barbara and Alan D. Marks. The team has secured the rights to the Basquiat’s work and personal archives.

“I want people to leave this show inspired to create,” said Batiste. “I want them to not only learn about Jean-Michel Basquiat, an innovator but to also feel the visceral thrill of the creative process and to deepen and discover their own creativity. We have an opportunity to tell a truly profound story, full of emotional highs and lows, with unbelievable art at the center. I’m honored to work with veteran storyteller John Doyle, the Marks, and the Basquiat family. We are assembling a team to help craft a boundary-pushing masterpiece inspired by a true American original.”

Basquiat’s genius enabled the painter to produce considerable amounts of groundbreaking work in a relatively short lifespan. He was easily one of the most prolific minds of the 20th century, bridging the gap between street-art and contemporary museum art. In May of 2017, one of Basquiat’s untitled 1982 painting sold for an astonishing $110.5 at auction, making it the sixth most expensive painting of all-time. Batiste is a gifted creator, and with the backing of the Basquiat estate, this show is set to do his legacy justice.