Alwin Lopez “Al” Jarreau the incredible singer, musician and music writer passed away at 76.
Al Jarreau who is best known as a jazz singer, achieved incredible heights by superseding the genres: he won 7 Grammy Awards in the jazz, pop and R&B categories, respectively. The quality that set him apart from other artists was his unique ability to use his voice like a musical instrument.
Born into a family that valued education, Jarreau graduated college with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. He continued learning during the day – he’s earned a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa – while spending evenings doing what he loved: singing jazz.
Music took a firm hold on him, still the practicality instilled in him by his parents prevailed. Al worked as a vocational rehab counselor even after the release of his first album and for the four years during which he tried to establish himself in the music industry. Then, and only then, approaching 30, he chose music over his original profession. Lucky for us! (As the closing chapters of this article will tell you, Al Jarreau loved and lived music, BUT with the heart of a psychologist always concerned about the well-being and happiness of others.)
Jarreau’s most popular: the theme song for 1980s TV show “Moonlighting” (with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd), his performance in the 1985 charity song “We Are the World” and his “Breakin’ Away” album (1981).
The song “We’re in This Love Together” (1981) open doors for his amazing career which included awards, tours, best-selling albums, a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the SoulMusic Hall of Fame.
Quoted directly from a statement – made by those who knew Al Jarreau best – on http://AlJarreau.com/:
“Al Jarreau passed away this morning, February 12, 2017. He was in the hospital, kept comfortable by his wife, son, and a few family and close friends. He will be missed. The family asks that no flowers or gifts are sent. Instead, please consider a contribution to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, a wonderful organization which supports music opportunities, teachers, and scholarships for students in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. Link to the donation page: http://foundation4schoolmusic.org/lifetime-achievement-award/al-jarreau/. Even if you do not plan to contribute, please visit that page and give yourself a minute to watch a beautiful tribute video which was produced by Wisconsin Public Television.
A few days ago, I was asked to describe Al to someone who knew of his success, but did not know him as a person. I responded with this: His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd.
His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest. He needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before. Song was just his tool for making that happen.
A few things I think Al would want mentioned right now: To Al’s wife, son, sister, brothers and family: You allowed Al to share himself with the world. He was grateful that you gave him that gift. He knew it was difficult, and regretted that more than he could explain. Please know that your gift was to us, too, and that we are also grateful. To everyone who attended his concerts and listened to his albums: He needed you, and you were always there for him, for more than 50 years. He was thankful for you every day and tried to show that to each of you.”