Jon Batiste reveals sweet backstory behind Oscar-nominated “It Never Went Away”

ABC/Michael Le Brecht II

The backstory behind Jon Batiste‘s Oscar-nominated song “It Never Went Away” from Netflix’s American Symphony is a sweet one. It was written as a lullaby for his wife, Suleika Jaouad [Su-lake-uh Ja-wad], who was battling leukemia, he told Billboard

“She is a best-selling author and couldn’t put pen to paper because the medication blurred her vision badly,” he said. “So she began to paint and I began to write lullabies.”

Batiste said the lullabies were meant to help his wife get to sleep easier and to “have peace” while she was in the hospital. He said the songs were never supposed to be released to the public.

“One of the themes of our relationship is creativity as an act of survival,” he said. 

American Symphony follows Batiste as he sets out to compose a symphony after his wife learns her cancer has returned. The documentary paints the two as artists and life partners who persevere through life’s challenges. 

Jaouad, a New York Times bestselling author and journalist, was reportedly first diagnosed with cancer when she was 22. She announced in December 2021 that it had returned.

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