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Grammy winner Jon Batiste and longtime partner Suleika Jaouad have revealed they secretly got married.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Batiste and Jaouad shared the news that they married in a secret February ceremony, which took place the day before Jaouad’s bone marrow transplant as she battles leukemia a second time.
“We had this tiny, beautiful little ceremony. We didn’t have wedding bands, we used bread ties,” she said to correspondent Jim Axelrod. Jaouad described the ceremony as private, given only four people were present. “And it was perfect,” she added.
Eight days prior to the 2022 Grammy nominations being announced, Jaouad began her first day of chemo, calling her second battle with leukemia “far more aggressive than it had been a decade ago.”
“We’re sitting in this chemo suite together and these phone calls of congratulations are coming and we’re having to hold these two realities,” she said.
After Jaouad underwent a bone marrow transplant, Batiste was unable to stay with her due to the then-surging omicron variant of COVID-19. She shared that while chatting with him virtually, Batiste would write her a new lullaby: “It felt like he was right there, you know, sleeping by my bedside.” Batiste said he wrote the lullabies “to fill the room with this healing properties.”
Despite a trying time for the couple, who have been together for eight years, Batiste described the current circumstances as “just a bump in the road” to their plans.
“OK, this has happened, but this isn’t gonna interrupt the plan that we had, this is just a bump in the road. … It’s an act of defiance. The darkness will try to overtake you, but just turn on the light, focus on the light, hold on to the light,” he said.
After learning of her diagnosis, Jaouad said Batiste revealed that his plans to propose had already been months in the works: “He said to me, ‘I just want to be very clear, I’m not proposing to you because of this diagnosis. It’s taken me a year to design your ring. So, just know this timing has nothing to do with it. But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn’t change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together.’ But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it.”
Jaouad said they “walked into that bone marrow transplant unit on cloud nine.”
“We were so happy, so brimming with love and positivity from this beautiful evening that we’d had,” she said. “And I really believe that that carried us through. That sense of community, that sense of love, that sense of joy and spontaneity were so important.”
The CBS Sunday Morning special aired on the same day Batiste went into the Grammy Awards as a leading nominee with 11 nods, including in the top categories of record of the year and album of the year, the latter of which he won for his album We Are.
When accepting the album of the year award, Batiste reflected on how powerful music can be for many. “I believe this to my core, there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor. … The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song or an album is made and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most,” he said onstage.
In the nontelevised ceremony earlier in the day, Batiste also won four awards: best music video for “Freedom,” best score soundtrack for visual media for Soul, and best American roots performance and best American roots song for “Cry.”
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