“Jon Batiste: American Symphony”: a personal drama!  He has a terminally ill wife

“American Symphony,” produced by the Obamas, is not another narcissistic documentary monument that other icons of the show business have recently received from Netflix. Matthew Heineman’s film (“Ghost Town,” “In the Valley of the Cartels”) is about something more than a sanctioned confession from a celebrity in the name of building popularity. A documentary film about creativity and life Jonah Batistia It is, of course, spectacle, but its intimacy and precision allow us to believe in the sincere intentions of its creators. Not only in the field of liberation of black artists (Barack and Michelle Obama As executive producers, they’re committing to something), but also on a more global level.

We are witnessing the peak of the career of Batiste, who in 2022, with 11 Grammy nominations, has become an unlikely favorite at the ceremony. In the end, it won five awards, including Album of the Year, beating out Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Tony Bennett, and Lady Gaga, among others.

By then, Batiste had already won an Academy Award (along with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and a Golden Globe for the score for the animated film “Soul” and was preparing to conduct a symphony at Carnegie Hall. Meanwhile his partner (as we see their wedding in the documentary) Silika Jawad He’s fighting leukemia again while waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Jawad, the bestselling author of Life, Interrupted and a columnist for The New York Times, embraces her illness with great humility, but also with amazing courage.

Batiste grew up in a very religious Catholic family and is a very spiritual person, which he makes no secret of, meditating and praying daily. His music also borders on metaphysics. It is restless, surprising and brilliantly eclectic. From Willie Nelson to Prince to Lenny Kravitz and Lina Del Rey, the list of artists Batiste has collaborated with is proof of that. Raised musically on the streets of New Orleans, the boy took the music world by storm, performing on Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” in 2015-2022, but he also graduated from the prestigious New York University Juilliard. 37-year-old Batiste has already achieved amazing success, but at the heart of this success is always – Solika.

There is an insightful moment in Heinemann’s film when Batiste dedicates a song during a concert to his terminally ill wife. Before he starts playing, he pauses and we see a full range of emotions on his face. A moment later, he pours it into a piano recital. Brave because it comes from the heart. Tremendous, because it is full of love. A Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and the adoration of fans are every artist’s dream, but what is all this when there is a deadly disease in the house? The relationship between John and Sulika is shown in a wonderful and intimate way. The later stages of Jawad’s battle against the disease, intertwined with the process of creating Batiste, are far from manipulating the viewer’s emotions, which is the director’s temptation in every film with cancer in its background. The disease attacked Sulica again at a time when John received 11 nominations for the most important music awards in the world. It was 2021, and the world was still in the throes of the Covid pandemic. Intense emotions as in the best symphony!

This documentary also reminds us that each of us is going through a struggle and wearing a mask to hide our true colors from the world. Whether you’re an Oscar winner, a nurse, or an Uber driver, life is a rollercoaster for all of us. This is a truism, but in times of ubiquitous narcissism and the dictatorship of hedonism, we often forget it. An insight into Batiste’s life helps us see the need to seek balance in our awareness of the essence of life, but it also reminds us of a simple rule: be kind to your neighbor, for you do not know what he is suffering inside. Four walls. Also enjoy this earthly life, because part of it is not only victory, but also suffering. Solica will likely have to take chemotherapy for the rest of her life. how long? It is written in different notes and someone else composed this piece. Another person is also a conductor. That’s why the finale of “American Symphony” was so open and lively. We improvise. everyone. Because what’s left?


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