Artist Spotlight: Al Jarreau

Born March 12,1940, Alwin Lopez Jarreau, also known as “Al” was a Grammy winning American Singer and musician. Throughout his career, Al received a total of seven Grammy awards and was nominated for many more. Al is most well known for his best album, Breakin’ Away, which was released in 1981. He was among the performers of the 1985 charity song, “We are the World”.

Jarreau was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was the 5th of 6 children. He was raised by his father who was a Seventh-day adventist church minister and singer. Al and his siblings sang along with their mother, whom was a church pianist all throughout church benefits and concerts. Growing up, Jarreau attended Lincoln High School where he would then attend Ripon College and obtain his Bachelors degree in Psychology. Al would earn his Masters degree only two years later, in Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Iowa in 1964.

In 1968 Al would venture south in hopes of some exposure having recently made jazz as his primary occupation. He received much exposure from the Johnny Carson Show, David First and Dinah Shore. He would perform at nightclubs and would perform in between acts of rising stars like John Belushi and Bette Midler. During this, Christian spirituality began influencing his work and he found much guidance through his lyrics at the time. In 1975 he would be working with pianist Tom Canning as he would be spotted by Warner Bros. Records. He would go on to perform on Saturday Night Live on Valentines Day 1976.

In 1978 he would win his first Grammy Award for best Jazz Vocal Performance for his recent album, ‘Look To The Rainbow’. He would reach much success with his most infamous album, Breakin’ Away in 1981 which would include his hit song, “We’re In This Love Together”. He would also win Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and reach 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and number 26 on the R&B chart.

Jarreau would tour and perform with Chick Corea, Kathleen Battle, Gregor Praecht, Miles Davis, George Duke, David Sanborn and George Benson. He would go on to perform on the broadway production of Grease in 1996. On March 6, 2001 he would receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He appeared on American Idol as part of a duet with Paris Bennett.

In 2010 Jarreau was hospitalized in a France hospital after having performed in Barcelonnette and was being treated for respiratory problems. Recently, on February 8th, 2017, after being hospitalized for exhaustion in Los Angeles, Jarreau cancelled the remainder of his 2017 tour. Due to respiratory failure, Al passed away at the age of 76, only two days after announcing his retirement.

To André, Al Jarreau was a great mentor that he greatly enjoyed meeting and enjoyed listening to as he grew. André saw his rhythm as “fascinating and moving”. This would greatly impact André, as he now moves crowds with his fascinating lyrics.