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Tue, 03.12.1940

Al Jarreau, Singer born


Al Jarreau

*Al Jarreau was born on this date in 1940. He was a Black singer and musician.

Alwin Lopez "Al" Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the fifth of six children. His father was a Seventh-day Adventist Church minister and singer, and his mother was a church pianist. Jarreau and his family sang together in church concerts and benefits, and he and his mother also performed at PTA meetings.

Jarreau was student council president and Badger Boys State delegate for Lincoln High School. At Boys State, he was elected governor. Jarreau went on to attend Ripon College, where he sang with a group called the Indigos. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Two years later, in 1964, he earned a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa.

Jarreau also worked as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco and moonlighted with a jazz trio headed by George Duke. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez. They were a big attraction at a small Sausalito nightclub called Gatsby's. This success contributed to Jarreau's decision to make professional singing his life and full-time career.

In 1975, Jarreau was working with pianist Tom Canning when Warner Bros. Records spotted him. That same year he released his critically acclaimed debut album, We Got By, which catapulted him to international fame and garnered him an Echo Award (the German equivalent of the Grammy in the United States). A second Echo Award would follow with the release of his second album, Glow. In 1978, Al won his first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for his album, Look To The Rainbow.

Jarreau was married twice. He and Phyllis Hall were married from 1964 to 1968. His second wife was Susan Elaine Player, fourteen years his junior. They were married in 1977 and had a son, Ryan Jarreau. In 2009, children's author Carmen Rubin published the story Ashti Meets Birdman Al, inspired by Jarreau's music. He wrote the foreword for the book and read it worldwide. Al and Carmen worked together to promote literacy and the importance of keeping the music alive in children.

On July 23, 2010, it was reported that he was critically ill at a hospital in France and was being treated for respiratory problems and cardiac arrhythmias. Jarreau was conscious, in stable condition, and the cardiology unit of a hospital in Marseilles. He remained there for about a week for tests. In June 2012, he had pneumonia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France. He fully recovered and continued to tour extensively for the next five years. In 2014, Jarreau made his last studio album, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke. He received seven Grammy Awards and was nominated for over a dozen more. He is the only artist to win a Grammy in three categories; Jazz, Pop, and R&B.

Jarreau was perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin' Away. He also sang the theme song of the late-1980s television series Moonlighting and was among the performers on the 1985 charity song "We Are the World." On February 8, 2017, after being hospitalized for exhaustion in Los Angeles, he canceled his remaining 2017 tour dates. Al Jarreau died of respiratory failure at the age of 76 on February 12, 2017, and is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

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