The Baylor Project – To Be A Light, with Jean and Marcus Baylor
This month Parvati Magazine spoke with husband and wife jazz duo Marcus and Jean Baylor of The Baylor Project, about their Grammy nominated album “The Journey”, and their life together.
Parvati Magazine: I love the name of your record label, Be A Light, which is fitting because this month’s issue is called The Light Within. What does Be A Light mean to you and your work?
Jean Baylor: We are people of faith. A big part of who we are and what we try to put out in the world is connected to the idea that we can be a conduit of hope and inspiration. It’s definitely connected to everything we do including the songs we write and produce. Songs like “Again” and “Laugh and Move On” talk about forgiveness, redemption and restoration. These are just a few of the concepts that we may touch on when we are creating music.
PMAG: Have you learned anything new about each other as a married couple in working on this album?
Marcus Baylor: Working together as husband and wife means that we get to see one another’s strengths and weaknesses in a different way, because we are business partners as well as life partners. We were both athletes as well, so we naturally bring a team mentality to everything we do. We know which person should take the lead in certain circumstances and when to shift, and we’re okay with that because we respect one another’s gifts, talents and contributions and ultimately have a common goal.
PMAG: What has been the most challenging part of making this record together?
MB: The easy part is always creating the music, the art. The biggest challenge, however was figuring out how to release the CD in a way that would bring value to the project. Initially, we wanted to sign a deal with a major label because we thought this would offer the best opportunity for maximum exposure. We shopped the project to several labels and they all turned us down. It can be a discouraging process because you work so hard to accomplish something and when your next planned step doesn’t work out, you have to take a breath and figure out another way to accomplish your goal. Between the both of us, we have a lot of strengths. Waiting is not one of them. We decided to release “The Journey” through our own independent label, Be A Light. As an indie label, we quickly realized that this was one of our biggest assets because we have ultimate flexibility and control over the entire process. We launched our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Through social media, it went viral and became an international marketing tool that brought a broad awareness to The Baylor Project.
JB: I remember hearing TD Jakes say “people’s ‘no’ is God’s ‘yes’”. What we thought was our biggest challenge, getting turned down by major labels, became the catalyst for creating our future through entrepreneurship and creative control over our product. As independent, Grammy-nominated artists who are now competing with major labels, we hope our story inspires other artists and business owners to follow their path to purpose.
PMAG: How do you balance your music with your family life?
JB: We haven’t quite found the balance yet. Whenever we do something for fun, whether it’s going out to dinner or going to see a movie, we always end up talking about our music and business. As Libras we are always searching for balance but never feel satisfied until we’ve accomplished our goal. So, I guess that’s the balance. As long as we are working our hardest and smartest to reach our goals together, we’re content.
PMAG: Your Grammy nominated song “Laugh and Move On” is such a gorgeous, soulful, and inspiring song about letting go of that person (or situation?) that doesn’t serve your higher good. Is that advice you’ve given yourself over the years and to others? Most people would just say, “move on” – why add “laugh”?
JB: “Laugh and Move On” actually came from a conversation with someone and I thought that would be a great song. I had to put some thought into that lyric because in a way, suggesting that someone simply ‘laugh and move on’ while dealing with a difficult situation can seem dismissive and unrealistic. It’s actually meant to convey the deeper meaning of navigating through the process of life’s challenges, with joy. When you have inner peace, you are able to process the pain with purpose and meaning and ultimately, healing.
PMAG: What are your musical plans for 2018?
MB: As we start 2018, we are extremely excited about the two Grammy nominations in both Jazz and R&B! We are expecting to tour domestically and internationally, expand The Baylor Project to a wider audience and continue to grow our brand with some new business initiatives. We know this is just the beginning for us and are thankful for all of the support we’ve received, from our crowd-funding Indiegogo campaign, to the CD release in 2017, all the way to the Grammys!
The Baylor Project is steeped in the heart and soul of jazz. As the children of pastors, Marcus and Jean Baylor’s musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD is “The Journey”, released on their own label, Be A Light.