Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad Secretly Married After She Was Diagnosed With Leukemia a Second Time
By Samantha Schnurr
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad are holding onto the light amid some unexpected darkness.
The 35-year-old musician, who was the most-nominated artist at the 2022 Grammys, and longtime girlfriend Suleika, an author, revealed in an interview for CBS Sunday Morning that they secretly wed in February, on the eve of her bone marrow transplant as she battles Leukemia a second time.
"It's an act of defiance," Jon said of tying the knot. "The darkness will try to overtake you, but just turn on the light. Focus on the light. Hold onto the light."
After eight years together, the two became wife and husband with the help of bread ties, which they used in the absence of rings, and a marriage license procured while Suleika was in the operating room getting a catheter placed in her chest.
"That night we went and bought our wedding outfits together, very last-minute, lots of laughter," she said, according to CBS News. "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."
As happy newlyweds, Suleika said they were "brimming with love and positivity" as they headed into her transplant the next day. "I really believe that that carried us through," she said. "That sense of community, that sense of love, that sense of joy and spontaneity were so important."
While organizing the nuptials may have been hasty, making the decision to tie the knot was not. "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 recalled Jon saying. "But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it."
On the GRAMMYs stage Sunday, Batiste, who became the most-winning artist this year, took home the evening's final award for Album of the Year. "I believe this to my core -- there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor," he said during his acceptance speech. "The creative arts are subjective and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most."
That seems to be true of the lullabies he wrote for his now-wife while she was in the hospital undergoing treatment alone.
"It felt like he was right there," she said, "sleeping by my bedside."
ET spoke to Batiste backstage at the GRAMMYs and he talked about their secret nuptials.
"Yes, well you know this is the thing about life, you have to go with the moment, you have to know when it’s the time to do something and that's what we did," he told ET's Kevin Frazier. "Yes, we've been thinking about it for so long, planning it, and we did it, got married, boom boom."
He also said the celebration wasn't over.
"We are going to do something much bigger soon," he shared.