Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press
Getting a Grammy Award nomination can be a life-changing event.
Getting two is doubly so.
Just ask Jean and Marcus Baylor of the South Jersey-based The Baylor Project. Their album, “The Baylor Project: The Journey,” is nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy, and the album track, “Laugh And Move On,” is nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
“I felt normal on Monday and on Tuesday, life totally changed,” said Marcus of the nomination news. “The phone calls and awareness and the decisions we now have to make.”
The Baylors are headed up to Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the 60th annual Grammy Awards are set to take place, Sunday, Jan. 28. The TV broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. on CBS.
So, just who are the Baylors? Jean Baylor is a Moorestown native whose father, Rev. Doctor Dennis E. Norris, was the pastor of the Moorestown Second Baptist Church through much of the 1970s and ’80s. Jean found music stardom as one half of the R&B duo Zhane in the ’90s. Their big hit was the Kay Gee-produced, “Hey Mr. D.J.”
Marcus Baylor is best known as the drummer of the jazz group, the Yellowjackets.
“The Journey” is the Baylors’ first full collaboration together and the couple’s big tent sound, ranging from jazz to R&B to gospel, is agreeably esoteric without being obtuse. Nuanced without being fussy and a joy on many levels.
“One of the reasons we decided to do it is I wanted to do something that featured myself on drums and Jean on vocals,” Marcus said. “Really, that was pretty much the concept. I believe as a percussionist you can have the voice of a singer. It’s just about understanding the dynamics.”
It’s a novel concept.
“Marcus is very melodic,” said Jean of her husband’s drumming. “He’s not just playing a beat — he’s telling a story and arranging while he’s playing.”
The Baylors’ musical story is broad and comes in many variations, so getting Grammy noms in both R&B and jazz categories makes sense, Marcus said.
“Our background is we were preachers’ kids,” Marcus said. “Growing up, we both had influences of hip-hop, R&B, and so the way we think about music is that it all comes from the same place, which is our community and our culture. We feel that gospel, jazz, R&B, it was all born in the same place.”
Other Jersey nominations
The Baylors will be having company from Jersey at the Garden.
Bruce Springsteen is up for the Best Spoken Word Album award for the reading of his autobiography, “Born to Run.” The audio book was released in December and musical transitions were recorded at the Stone Hill Studio in his Colts Neck home. Excerpts from the original studio recordings of “Living Proof,” “Long Time Comin’” and “Born to Run” are also included in the audiobook.
The Boss is up against Neil Degrasse Tyson, Shelly Peiken, Bernie Sanders and Mark Ruffalo, and Carrie Fisher in the category.
Jersey newcomer SZA, aka Solána Imani Rowe of Maplewood, is coming hard with five nominations connected to her debut R&B album, “Ctrl.” She’s the most-nominated woman this year, including one for Best New Artist.
Tony Bennett, a long-time Englewood resident, is up for the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90,” an album of collaborations.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s “Got Soul” is nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Randolph is an Irvington native.
New Milford native Jack Antonoff has two nominations, one for Record of the Year for his work on Lorde’s “Melodrama” and another for a songwriting credit on “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker.” Zayn and Taylor Swift performed the track.
Jazzman Bill Charlap, the director of jazz studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, is up for a Grammy as his “Uptown, Dopwntown,” credited to the Bill Charlap Trio, is nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Overall, Jay Z and his “4:44” has eight nominations, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rap Album. Kendrick Lamar has seven nominations and Bruno Mars has six.
James Corden is the host of the ceremony and U2, Rihanna, Lamar, SZA, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Pink, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Patti Lupone and Alessia Cara, Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Childish Gambino, Little Big Town Sam Smith, Ben Platt from “Dear Evan Hansen,” Logic and Khalid are set to perform as of press time.
Also, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, and Maren Morris will perform a tribute to the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas mass shooting. All three acts were performers at the festival.
“In many ways, our show encapsulates the year in music,” said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammys, in a statement. “Although that usually means a focus on achievement and excellence, sadly, last year was marred by a number of senseless tragedies that took place at live music events. We didn’t feel like we’d be doing our jobs if we didn’t reflect on these tremendous losses.”