Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau
Background information
Birth name Alwin Lopez Jarreau
Born (1940-03-12) March 12, 1940
Origin Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Genres Jazz, R&B, soul
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1967–present
Labels Reprise, Warner Bros., GRP, Concord, Rhino

Alwin "Al" Lopez Jarreau (born March 12, 1940) is an American jazz singer.[1]


Al Jarreau during a concert at ICC Berlin in 1986
Al Jarreau during a concert in Düsseldorf in January 1981
Al Jarreau in Wrocław, Poland; June 25, 2006
Al Jarreau at book drive event held at the Department of Education on August 25, 2004.
Al Jarreau headlining "Jazz in Kiev 2008" festival

Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the fifth of six children. His website refers to Reservoir Avenue, the name of the street where he lived. His father was a Seventh-day Adventist Church minister and singer, and his mother was a church pianist. He and his family sang together in church concerts and in benefits, and he and his mother performed at PTA meetings.[2]

He was student council president and Badger Boys State delegate for Lincoln High School. At Boys State, Jarreau, was elected governor.[3] He went on to attend Ripon College, where he also sang with a group called the Indigos. Jarreau graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.[1] He went on to earn a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, 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.[1] The duo became the star attraction at a small Sausalito night club called Gatsby's. This success contributed to Jarreau's decision to make professional singing his life and full-time career.

Going full-time

In 1968, Jarreau made jazz his primary occupation. In 1969, Jarreau and Martinez headed south, where Jarreau appeared in such Los Angeles hot spots as Dino's, The Troubadour, and Bitter End West. Television exposure came from Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, and David Frost. He expanded his nightclub appearances performing at The Improv between the acts of such rising-star comics as Bette Midler, Jimmie Walker, and John Belushi. During this period, he became involved with the United Church of Religious Science and the Church of Scientology, but he is no longer affiliated with Scientology. Also, roughly at the same time, he began writing his own lyrics, finding that his Christian spirituality began to influence his work.[2]

In 1975, Jarreau was working with pianist Tom Canning when he was spotted by Warner Bros. Records. On Valentines Day 1976 he sang on the 13th episode of NBC's new Saturday Night Live hosted, that week, by Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Everybody Loves Raymond). Soon thereafter releasing his critically acclaimed debut album, We Got By, which catapulted him to international fame and garnered him a German Grammy Award. A second German Grammy would follow with the release of his second album, Glow.

One of Jarreau's most commercially successful albums is Breakin' Away (1981), which includes the hit song "We're in This Love Together". In 1984, his single "After All" reached 69 on the US Hot 100 chart and number 26 on the R&B chart. It was especially popular in the Philippines. His last big hit was the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s American television show Moonlighting, for which he wrote the lyrics. Among other things, he is well known for his extensive use of scat singing, and vocal percussion. He was also a featured vocalist on USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in which he sang the line, "...and so we all must lend a helping hand." Another charitable media event, HBO's Comic Relief, featured Al in a duet with Natalie Cole singing the song "Mr. President", written by Joe Sterling, Mike Loveless and Ray Reach.

Jarreau took an extended break from recording in the 1990s. As he explained in an interview with Jazz Review: "I was still touring, in fact, I toured more than I ever had in the past, so I kept in touch with my audience. I got my symphony program under way, which included my music and that of other people too, and I performed on the Broadway production of Grease. I was busier than ever! For the most part, I was doing what I have always done … perform live. I was shopping for a record deal and was letting people know that there is a new album coming. I was just waiting for the right label (Verve), but I toured more than ever."[4]

In 2003, Jarreau and conductor Larry Baird collaborated on symphony shows around the United States, with Baird arranging additional orchestral material for Jarreau's shows.

He has toured and performed with numerous musicians, including Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Kathleen Battle, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Rick Braun, and George Benson. He also performed the role of the Teen Angel in a 1996 Broadway production of Grease. On March 6, 2001, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.

Al Jarreau appeared in a duet with American Idol finalist Paris Bennett during the Season 5 finale and on Celebrity Duets singing with actor Cheech Marin.

In 2010, Al Jarreau is a guest on the new Eumir Deodato album, with the song "Double Face" written by Nicolosi/Deodato/Al Jarreau. The song is produced by the Italian company Nicolosi Productions.

On February 16, 2012, he was invited to the famous Italian Festival di Sanremo to sing with the Italian group Matia Bazar.

Personal life

Jarreau has been married twice. His first marriage, to Phyllis Hall, lasted from 1964 to 1968. His second wife is model Susan Player, whom he married in 1977. Jarreau and Player have one adult son together, Ryan.

It was reported on July 23, 2010 that Jarreau was critically ill at a hospital in France, while in the area to perform a concert at nearby Barcelonnette, and was being treated for respiratory problems and cardiac arrhythmias.[5] He was taken to the intensive-care unit at Gap late on July 22, 2010.[6] Jarreau was conscious, in a stable condition and in the cardiology unit of La Timone hospital in Marseille, the Marseille Hospital Authority said. He was expected to remain there for about a week for tests.[7] In June 2012, Jarreau was diagnosed with pneumonia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France.[8]

Since then, Jarreau has made a full recovery and continues to tour extensively.[9]

In 2009 children's author Carmen Rubin published the story Ashti Meets Birdman Al, inspired by the music of Al Jarreau. He wrote the foreword for the book and reads from it across the world. Both Al and Carmen work together to promote literacy and the importance of keeping music alive in children. Books are available on iTunes and



Live albums


Early material recorded before 1974

After Jarreau's breakthrough in 1975 an almost unaccountable number of compilations of earlier recordings from 1965 to 1973 have emerged, including some or all of the following songs:

Songs by various composers


Soundtrack inclusions

Guest appearances


Grammy Awards

Year AwardedCategoryNominationNotes
1978Best Jazz Vocal PerformanceLook to the Rainbow (1977)
1979All Fly Home (1978)
1981Best Recording for ChildrenIn Harmony: A Sesame Street Record (1980)Together with other artists
1982Best Pop Vocal Performance, MaleBreakin' Away (1981)
Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male"(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo à la Turk" (1981)
1993Best R&B Vocal Performance, MaleHeaven and Earth (1992)
2007Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance"God Bless the Child" (2006)Together with George Benson and Jill Scott
1981Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male"Never Givin' Up" (1980)
1982Album of the YearBreakin' Away (1981)Together with Jay Graydon
1984Producer of the Year (Non-Classical)Jarreau (1983)For Jay Graydon
Best Engineered Recording - Non-ClassicalFor Jay Graydon, Ian Eales and Eric Prestis
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)"Mornin'" (1983)For David Foster, Jay Graydon and Jeremy Lubbock
"Step by Step" (1983)Together with Tom Canning, Jay Graydon and Jerry Hey
1985Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal"Edgartown Groove" (1984)Together with Kashif
1986Best R&B Vocal Performance, MaleHigh Crime (1984)
1987"Since I Fell for You" (1986)
1988Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male"Moonlighting (theme)" (1987) from the TV series Moonlighting (1987)
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or TelevisionTogether with Lee Holdridge
1990Best Male R&B Vocal PerformanceHeart's Horizon (1988)
1995"Wait for the Magic" (1994)
2005Best Jazz Vocal AlbumAccentuate the Positive (2004)
2007Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal"Breezin'" (2006)Together with George Benson
2013Best Jazz Vocal AlbumLive (2012)Together with The Metropole Orkest
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)"Spain (I Can Recall)" (2012)For Vince Mendoza
Best Children's AlbumJumpinJazz Kids - A Swinging Jungle Tale (2012)Together with James Murray and other artists

Hall of Fame

Year AwardedAward
2001Hollywood Walk of Fame
2012SoulMusic Hall of Fame at

Honorary degrees

Year AwardedDegreeUniversity
1991Honorary Doctorate of MusicBerklee College of Music
2004Honorary Doctorate of Fine ArtsUniversity of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


  1. 1 2 3 "Brief official bio".
  2. 1 2 Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Mich: Gale, 2009.
  4. See Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  5. (AFP) –. "AFP: US jazz singer Al Jarreau critically ill in France". Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
  6. "US jazz singer Al Jarreau critically ill in hospital".
  7. "Al Jarreau Stable, Changes Hospitals in France". Associated Press. July 24, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  8. Associated Press (June 4, 2012). "Jazz singer Al Jarreau cancels France concerts". Yahoo!. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  9. Mergner, Lee (August 15, 2010). "Al Jarreau: Feelin' Pretty Good Singer set for performances at Wolf Trap and other venues in U.S. and Japan". Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  10. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 280. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. "Welcome to – The Official site For Al Jarreau – 7 Time Grammy Award Winning Jazz / Crossover Legend!". Retrieved 2010-07-23.

External links

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