Sometimes, when you wish upon a star, you end up with a Grammy nomination.
Jenny Oaks Baker, a popular LDS violinist, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for her album “Wish Upon a Star: A Tribute to the Music of Walt Disney.” The album is a compilation of classically arranged Disney staples, such as “Colors of the Wind” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
The Salt Lake City native is one of the most accomplished violinists in America. She began playing at age four and made her solo debut at age eight. As a Julliard-trained musician, she performed solos with the National Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony and Utah Symphony, among others. She has released 10 best-selling albums since 1998, with “Then Sings My Soul,” hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Charts.
Baker was picked as one of five in a category where more than 100 artists were campaigning for the nomination. In addition to her stellar performance, she attributes the arrangements by Emmy Award-winning composer Kurt Bestor and the universal appeal of the Disney classics as reasons for the nomination.
“This was my very favorite album to perform,” Baker said. “Each arrangement just takes you on a different journey. Everyone has their own experience with each movie and can connect with each song on their own level.”
Baker said she is excited to gain a wider fan base through the nomination, dubbing it a turning point in her life. She said she loves the supports of her fans and is grateful for the talent she has been given to be able to spread her music throughout the world.
“The Lord has given me everything I have,” Baker said. “I hope people can feel the spirit in everything I play.”
Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew accredited many individuals at Shadow Mountain Records for Baker’s nomination.
“She makes the violin sing,” Dew said in a news release. “Her talent, combined with the superb touch of producer Kurt Bestor and our music team’s skillful handling of this product have proven a winning combination. We are honored to have a CD showcasing such sheer talent on the Shadow Mountain label.”
Anne Wright, a senior from Provo majoring in chemical engineering, has been playing violin since she was little and said Baker is one of her inspirations. She particularly admires Baker’s hymnal arrangements, which she has played in various church settings.
“She’s an amazing violinist and a great performer,” Wright said. “Her hymns are great to listen to when you’re looking for something different than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”
Baker, a mother of four, currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia. Her website and albums can be found at jennyoaksbaker.com. The winner of the Grammy Awards will be announced Feb. 12.