R&B/jazz star and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" bandleader Jon Batiste, who took home five Grammy Awards including album of the year on Sunday, privately married bestselling nonfiction author Suleika Jaouad in February, the two revealed in a "CBS Sunday Morning" web-only interview.
"We've been secret-married until this moment," said the Brooklyn-born Jaouad, 33. "We got married the day before I was admitted to the hospital to undergo my bone-marrow transplant" for the leukemia she has written about in a New York Times column and the book "Between Two Kingdoms" since being diagnosed at age 22.
"We have known that we wanted to get married I think from the first week that we started dating," Jaouad said. "That's when Jon first brought up the topic of marriage to me. So we've had eight years. This is not, you know, a hasty decision!" she said with a laugh.
Batiste, 35, interviewed separately, said he remembered thinking that Jaouad's need for a bone-marrow transplant "isn't going to interrupt the plan that we had. We have a plan. We're moving toward a plan, and this is just a bump in the road." Getting married was "an act of defiance. The darkness will try to overtake you, but just turn on the light. Focus on the light. Hold onto the light."
Jaouad said she'd learned that Batiste "had had multi-month plans in the making to propose to me. And when he did, 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 the timing has nothing to do with it. … It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together.' "
A friend, she said, was "able to arrange to get [us] a marriage license at the very last minute while I was in the OR getting a catheter placed into my chest. And it was absurd! There were nurses around, there were surgeons around, we had this computer, I was in a hospital gown. But we made it happen. And that night we went and bought our wedding outfits together, very last-minute, lots of laughter."
They married privately with "maybe four people present," Jaouad said. "It was tiny and it was perfect. And I'll tell you, we 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. And I really believe that carried us through."
Sunday on Instagram, after the interview was posted, she wrote, "My beloved @jonbatiste & I shared some personal news today. With gratitude to the good folks @cbssundaymorning for putting together such a beautiful piece."
"WE ALREADY WON!!" Batiste commented on her post before the Grammys were awarded. "Yeah we did," agreed Jaouad, adding metaphorically, "We swept."