Jon Batiste had a lot more to celebrate on Sunday night at the 2022 Grammy Awards than met the eye. Hours before The Late Show With Stephen Colbert band leader took home the coveted album of the year hardware for his album We Are, he revealed in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that he and longtime partner Suleika Jaouad secretly got hitched last month.
“We got married the day before I was admitted to the hospital to undergo my bone marrow transplant,” Jaouad told the show about wanting to get married after the author of the best-selling cancer memoir Between Two Kingdoms was diagnosed with leukemia a second time.
“We have known that we wanted to get married, I think, from the first week that we started dating. That’s when Jon first brought up the topic of marriage to me. So, we’ve had 8 years,” Jaouad laughed about their long, slow walk to the altar. “This is not, you know, a hasty decision!”
She said because of the haste involved in the “tiny, beautiful little ceremony,” they had to push through without official rings, opting for ceremonial “bread ties” instead of precious metals. Batiste told correspondent Jim Axelrod that getting married was an affirmation that the couple have a future together.
“Yes. It’s an act of defiance,” Batiste said. “The darkness will try to overtake you, but just turn on the light. Focus on the light. Hold onto the light.” In fact, Jaouad said that after she was diagnosed, Batiste admitted that he’d been working on a proposal for months. “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,'” she said. “But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it.”
She said thanks to a friend, they were able to get a last-minute marriage license while she was in the OR getting a catheter placed into her chest in what she described as an “absurd” situation. “There were nurses around, there were surgeons around. We had this computer. I was in a hospital gown,” Jaouad said. “But we made it happen. And that night we went and bought our wedding outfits together, very last-minute, lots of laughter. But it was, you know, not anything like what we’d imagined. There were maybe four people present. It was private. It was tiny. And it was perfect.”
Batiste, the most nominated artist at Sunday’s Grammys, took the stage in a bedazzled cape to accept his album of the year honor and thanking the people who found a deeper meaning in his album. “You know, I really, I believe this to my core: There is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor,” he said. “The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. A song or an album is made, and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most.”
By the end of the night, Batiste had won five trophies, including best American roots performance and song, best music video and and an unprecedented tie for best score soundtrack for visual media for his work on Soul, tying with The Queen’s Gambit.
Watch the interview below.