Jon Batiste is the perfect musician for these times. If you haven’t heard what he’s been doing lately, you haven’t been paying attention.

With a rich family dynasty in music, Batiste has made his mission about connection and celebration. Whether it’s leading his band Stay Human on The Late Show, recording with his group at the Village Vanguard, co-composing the music to the smash-hit Pixar film Soul, or releasing a brand new solo album We Are, Batiste has taken his music, artistry and activism directly into the 21st century.

Recorded in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans, We Are is said to combine “the consciousness of Marvin Gaye, the grounded optimism of Stevie Wonder, the iconoclasm of Thelonious Monk and the swagger of Mannie Fresh.” We Are is out March 19 on Verve Records.

Batiste joined us to talk about the new album and how it marks an awakening of the full extent of his artistry.