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Grammys touch a chord with one local nominee

Friday - 12/2/2011, 2:33pm  ET

Jenny Oaks Baker (Courtesy of Jenny Oaks Baker)
Jenny Oaks Baker is nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category. (Courtesy of Jenny Oaks Baker)

Baker talks about CD's universal appeal

WTOP's Nathan Hager reports.

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Nathan Hager, wtop.com

ANNANDALE, Va. -- After the Grammy Award nominations were announced in that extravagant televised concert special Wednesday night, the excitement took on a unique fever pitch in one house in Annandale.

It came when a mom and her two oldest kids checked the Grammys website for the nominations you don't see on TV.

"Just as my husband was calling from Australia, he was on a business trip, I saw my name and we all started screaming," says Jenny Oaks Baker, who just picked up a nomination for the music industry's highest honor for her solo CD, "Wish Upon a Star."

Besides raising four children, Baker is a Juilliard-trained, classical crossover recording artist. For seven years, she was a first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra, which she left in 2007 to devote more time to her family.

She hasn't stopped working, though. "Wish Upon a Star," a collection of lushly arranged tunes from Walt Disney movies, is her 10th album, and her first Grammy nomination.

"It's really the first time my record label has really kind of gone for it," Baker says.

She's nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, which despite the title encompasses a wide range of genres this year. Baker, a classically-trained violinist, is pitted against Hawaiian singer Daniel Ho, legendary R&B organist Booker T. Jones, smooth jazz saxman Dave Koz, and former Stray Cat Brian Setzer.

"Are they all men but me?" Baker asked, when I pointed out her competitors to her. "That's a bonus. At least I get to wear a gown and they just wear a tux."

Kidding aside, Baker thinks she has a good shot at picking up support among her fellow Grammy voters.

"I really think if people hear my album, it'll touch their hearts. It'll touch their souls with music," she says.

She also gives credit to her arranger, Kurt Besser, as well as to the source material.

"Everyone loves Disney," Baker says. "It's not slapstick Disney. It's sophisticated Disney that really has universal appeal."

No matter what happens when the awards are handed out Feb. 12, Baker says she's excited to have "Grammy" attached to her name on future albums, whether as a winner or a nominee.

And she's already making plans to attend the awards ceremony in Hollywood, wearing her gown. The kids, however, may have to watch from home in Annandale.

"I told them that it's not a children event," she says. "I don't think they'll let them in, although they're so cute, they may. That'd be quite a spectacle, wouldn't it?"

Well before the ceremony, you can see Jenny Oaks Baker perform at the Mormon Temple's Festival of Lights. She's giving two free concerts on the evenings of Dec. 11 and 12.

On the Jenny Oaks Baker website, you can hear Jenny Oaks Baker play and purchase her Grammy-nominated album, "Wish Upon a Star" or other CDs.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)