Seven-time Grammy-award winning vocalist Al Jarreau passed away on Sunday, Feb. 12. He was 76.
Jarreau had recently announced his retirement from touring via Twitter after being hospitalized for exhaustion a few days ago. Ebony.com reports that his manager, Joe Gordon, released a statement on his death. The statement read:
“Dear friends, family and colleagues,
Al Jarreau passed away this morning, at about 5:30am LA time. He was in the hospital, kept comfortable by Ryan, Susan, and a few of his family and friends.
Ryan and Susan will hold a small, private service at home, for immediate family only. No public service is planned yet, but I will inform you if that changes.
Ryan asks that no flowers or gifts are send to their home or office. Instead, if you are motivated to do so, please make 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. A donation page is here. Even if you do not plan to contribute, please list that page and give yourself a few minutes to watch a beautiful tribute video that Wisconsin Public Television produced to honor Al when he received his lifetime achievement award in October.”
Alwin “Al” Lopez- Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a minister father and piano teacher mother in 1940. At age 4, he began singing in the church choir and when he was in college studying for a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ripon College he performed with local jazz band the Indigos. Later, as he obtained his master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, Jarreau began a career as a social worker, but the music bug had already done its job.
“I was feeling bad about my performance as a counselor — I had a huge caseload, and it was overwhelming — and it made me think about what my real career should be,” Jarreau said in an interview with the LA Times in 1991.
Jarreau began singing in local clubs and in 1975, released his debut album We Got By to critical acclaim. His next album Breaking Away included his signature song “We’re in this Love Together.” Breaking Away won Grammys in the pop and jazz categories. Breaking Away‘s follow-up, Heaven and Earth was also honored with the Grammy award for “Best R&B Vocal Performance” making Jarreau the only artist to win Grammys in the jazz, pop and R&B categories.
Beyond studio albums, Jarreau also penned the theme song for the TV-series Moonlighting, has performed on Broadway as the Teen Angel in Grease and performed with symphony orchestras. Jarreau also toured a great deal, performing over 50 dates, in the year prior to his passing.
Al Jarreau leaves behind his wife Susan and son Ryan.