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Beyoncé, Prince and Stevie Wonder collaborator Jon Batiste joins The Piano for Series 3

US multi-instrumentalist and five-time Grammy award winner Jon Batiste is joining the third series of Channel 4’s The Piano.

Batiste, who is a globally celebrated singer, songwriter, bandleader and composer, will replace virtuoso classical pianist Lang Lang as judge and mentor when the programme that captured the hearts of the nation returns to screens next year.

Lang Lang will say a final farewell to the show during the 1 x 60 Christmas special this December when some of the talented pianists from series two will return to the train station once again to perform their favourite festive songs to commuters. The familiar faces will take to the piano alongside some very special guests with a few merry surprises of their own.

Lang Lang will then pass the musical baton on to Batiste for the next seven-episode instalment, commissioned from Love Productions.

Bringing a multitude of talent, knowledge and experience to The Piano, Batiste has recorded and performed with the world’s biggest superstars including Stevie Wonder, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey.

As well as having five Grammy wins under his belt, he has also won an Oscar for his work on Pixar’s 2020 film Soul and was nominated for an Oscar for the song “It Never Went Away”.

Most recently, Batiste made history and music with global megastar, singer-songwriter, Beyoncé as he joined forces with her as one of the collaborators on her hit country album, Cowboy Carter. Batiste and Beyoncé collaborated on the genre-bending track “American Requiem,” which Batiste wrote.

Batiste will be joined by Mika and Claudia Winkleman as the trio travel to five railway stations to give gifted amateur pianists the chance to showcase their prowess on public pianos up and down the country. Series 2 featured stop offs at Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh Waverley stations.

The spectacular final concert of series two saw Liverpudlian Brad chosen as performance of the night after he touched the hearts of Claudia, Mika and Lang Lang with his soul-stirring own composition as a thank you to his foster parents. Brad took to the stage at Manchester’s Aviva Studios, wowing the audience with his performance at the ticketed event. Money raised from tickets sales then went to the placing and maintaining of street pianos in train stations across the UK.

BAFTA nominated The Piano’s return to Channel 4 celebrated a consolidated audience of 3.4m for the first episode and the series average was 2.1m. Viewers heralded the programme as the most joyful show on TV and said it offered up a completely fresh perspective on music talent shows.

Batiste said: “I am so happy to be a mentor on The Piano and to witness the pianists for the new series express themselves on the instrument I’ve dedicated my life to. This show will bring together my unique history of performing in both train stations and concert halls. No matter where, I always have believed that music at its best creates community and brings folks together in divided times. It will be a massive joy to do just that all around the UK train stations with the piano and new talent. In collaboration with Mika, an incredible songwriter and musician and Claudia with her own inimitable style, I can’t wait for all the thrilling musical experiences ahead”

Lang Lang added: “Being a mentor on The Piano and spending time with the talented pianists has been a true joy. The level of talent I have witnessed has been phenomenal and it has been a privilege to see the love for playing the piano across the UK.

“Due to international concert commitments, I will be stepping down for series three but am delighted to be passing the baton to my dear friend Jon Batiste, who I know will be fantastic in the role.

“I am going to miss Mika and Claudia terribly but am very much looking forward to being reunited with them later this year filming the Christmas Special.”

Ian Katz, Channel 4, Chief Creative Officer said: “After helping to establish the Piano in just two series as one of the country’s best loved and most joyous TV shows, Lang Lang leaves big shoes to fill but if anyone can fill them it is Jon Batiste, an astonishing musician as accomplished playing a Beethoven concerto as creating hits with Beyonce.

Along with Mika and Claudia, Jon Batiste will trawl the nation’s train stations – and for the first time an airport – looking for the remarkable amateur pianists who prove that musical magic can be found in the most surprising places.”

Richard McKerrow, Creator’ and Executive Producer, Love Productions said: “We’re delighted to welcome the extraordinary Jon Batiste onto The Piano team alongside Mika and Claudia. Undoubtedly one of the world’s most talented composers and musicians, he brings an unmistakeably original energy to all genres of music, from classical, jazz, pop and beyond.”

The Piano was commissioned by Channel 4 head of specialist factual, Shaminder Nahal and senior commissioning editor, documentaries, Madonna Benjamin. Executive producer is Richard McKerrow and series editors are Ted Hill and Martha Delap for Love Productions.

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