Jon Batiste Raises Awareness of HIV/AIDS at ‘Something in the Water’ Festival

By Serena Sonoma | June 22, 2022

Jon Batiste is kicking off the summer heat! 

Last Saturday the Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer performed at the Something in the Water Music Festival in Washington DC over Juneteenth weekend. The three-day festival was created by Pharrell Williams who moved it to D.C. from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Performances were included by Anderson .Paak, Ozuna, Raveena, J Blavin, Denzel Curry, Omar Apollo, Tyler. the Creator, and more. The performance took place on the Moon Stage at 8:30 pm

Batiste’s performance was in collaboration with the Gilead COMPASS Initiative, to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis that continues to plague some of the Southernmost states in the U.S. The South is most affected by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 54% of all new HIV diagnoses in the country. COMPASS focuses on providing concentrated awareness, advanced education, and reducing stigma. “Jon Batiste’s performance signals the ongoing message that we must support people and communities who are not aware of the reality when it comes to HIV and the evaluation thereof,” said GLAAD.

“With an estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV who are often not seen, represented, or discussed, we must ensure every state in this nation has equal laws to end the decriminalization of HIV, fight discrimination against marginalized communities that restricts access to lifesaving medical care and treatment and work together to end the HIV epidemic.

Educating and empowering all communities encourages conversations so it becomes one of the normal day-to-day topics of life that everyone in some shape form or fashion has. HIV should be looked at the same way as any other virus or disease/illness.”> The collaboration titled the LOVE RIOT brought energy, acceptance, and awareness to important issues and encouraged audiences to join in, spread the word, and choose love over hate. Batiste was joined on stage with Bishop O.C. Allen, a 2015 appointee of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. 

“The number of folks living with HIV is staggering and I love the work COMPASS is doing to educate and raise awareness around HIV/AIDS,” said musician Jon Batiste.  “I’m honored to partner with COMPASS and have them join me in such a special way during Something in the Water to empower people, make them feel acknowledged, and spread some love and life force energy.”

“We’re honored to work with Jon as we work to end the stigma that perpetuates the HIV epidemic in the South,” said Dr. Shonda Jones, Principal Investigator, the Gilead COMPASS Initiative Faith Coordinating Center Wake Forest University School of Divinity.  “It will take all of us to spread the love, and ensure people living with HIV are able to access treatment and prevention services without fear of discrimination in their communities. People like Jon are vital to ending the HIV epidemic.”

In attendance for the performance was COMPASS grantee Relationship Unleashed who participated in the Pop-Up Church portion of the music festival. Minister Gwendolyn D. Clemons and Minister Dr. Davin D. Clemons are the mother and son duo who founded the Black-led LGBTQ group in Tennessee that helps liberate Black and brown people living with HIV through education, empowerment, and enrichment.

“Relationship Unleashed was honored to join forces with Grammy and Academy Award winners Jon Batiste and Pharrell Williams. We understand the power of representation and the influence artists of their stature carry,” said Gwendolyn D. Clemons. “We furthermore, believe that educating and raising awareness in our beloved community is one of the most effective methods to ending the HIV crisis in the Southern U.S. We understand this unprecedented opportunity to represent a community we advocate for daily.”

Relationship Unleashed is one of the over 326 organizations funded by COMPASS that have provided vital services to over 230,000 across the U.S. South.

Gilead Sciences, Inc has committed to creating a healthier world for everyone and they have worked tirelessly through bold and transformative science to create the next generation of life-changing medicines. Through their philanthropic division, several initiatives have been created to bring community education and much-needed awareness to a number of HIV-related causes, including that of COMPASS.