Report from L.A.'s Grammy Week: Jenny Oaks Baker & Utah label make splash at Grammys
Jenny Oaks Baker, the Utah-born violinist who is up for Best Pop Instrumental album, was able to meet with me during the Nominees Reception, held immediately after the Special Merit Awards Ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.
She looked luminous in a knock-out (but modest, of course) blue dress designed by Joanna Chen. A make-up and hair stylist from St. George, a friend of hers, came to he hotel room before the reception to help he get ready, and Baker was giddy with excitement. She planned on getting the same treatment after a church service in the morning.
Although getting her first Grammy nomination has opened many doors for her, she said she loved her current label Shadow Mountain Records, an arm of Deseret Book. "Shadow Mountain has made me what I am," she said. "They trusted me."
Baker and her husband live most of the year in the Washington D.C. area, so they and their children flew to Utah to drop off their children with a friend before flying to L.A. on Friday. Her excited children are being treated to their own special red-carpet party back in Utah, hosted by the friend, Baker said.
Baker talked excitedly about future projects with Shadow Mountain Records, including music that would implement more pop sounds into her classical-based music. She said adamantly that she didn't want to leave her classical fans behind, and wanted to stay true to her values and the values of Shadow Mountain Records. With that label, she said, they have never made her choose between being a mother or an artist.
Earlier in the day, I met with Bob Ahlander, director of music and film for Shadow Mountain Records, and Dave Brown, business director of music and film for SMR. A team from Shadow Mountain, including publicist Heather Hendrix, had come to L.A. to support Baker.
"We're pretty stoked to be here," Ahlander said. He said he had been watching the Grammy since he was 14 years old, and had never been -- until today. He and his wife were planning on visiting the Grammy Museum before dinner with his team and Baker.
He told was excited about Baker's next project. "The next thing for us is to do it again," he said. "Jenny always likes talking about the next thing." One idea that will probably take fruit is a mash-up of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" that Kurt Bestor (the producer of Baker's Grammy-nominated album) had created just for Baker.
Brown was thrilled that Baker's nomination showed that "you don't have to be in New York or Los Angeles to be on the cutting edge of music." He added: "Salt Lake City is putting out some of the best music in the world, and the world is noticing."
"Now, we feel that doors have opened," Ahlander said.
In an aside, I told Ahlander that a few nights ago I saw Robert Cray perform at a Grammy-related event, and Ahlander said that Cray was the first concert he went to after he returned from his two-year mission in Argentina.
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