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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 1960s–present
Labels Reprise, Warner Bros., GRP, Concord, Rhino

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


  • Background 1
  • Going full-time 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Discography 4
    • Albums 4.1
    • Live albums 4.2
    • Compilations 4.3
      • Recorded after 1975 4.3.1
      • Recorded before 1974 4.3.2
        • Songs by Bill Withers
        • Songs by Al Green
        • Songs by various composers
        • Compilations (recordings before 1974)
    • Singles 4.4
    • Soundtrack inclusions 4.5
    • Guest appearances 4.6
  • Awards 5
    • Grammy Award 5.1
    • Hall of Fame 5.2
    • Honorary degree 5.3
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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 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 impact his work.[2]

In 1975, Jarreau was working with pianist Tom Canning when he was spotted by Warner Bros. Records. He sang on the first season of Saturday Night Live episode 13, 1975, hosted by Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Everybody Loves Raymond). Soon thereafter released 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." He sung and wrote the lyrics for the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s American television show Moonlighting. Among other things, he is well known for his extensive use of scat singing, vocal bass, 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.

In 1984, Jarreau had become a successful hit single After All is the most popular in the Philippines, which includes the US chart number 69 and R&B number 26.

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."[3]

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 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 1978. His second wife is model Susan Player, whom he married in 1987. 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.[4] He was taken to the intensive-care unit at Gap late on July 22, 2010.[5] 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.[6] In June 2012, Jarreau was diagnosed with pneumonia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France.[7]

Since then, Jarreau has made a full recovery and continues to tour extensively.[8]

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



  • 1975: We Got By (Reprise) US# 209
  • 1976: Glow (Reprise) – US# 132, R&B No. 30, Jazz# 9
  • 1978: All Fly Home (Warner Bros.) – US# 78, R&B# 27, Jazz# 2
  • 1980: This Time (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 27, R&B# 6, Jazz# 1
  • 1981: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 9, R&B# 1, Jazz# 1, UK# 60
  • 1983: Jarreau (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 13, R&B# 4, Jazz# 1, UK# 39
  • 1984: High Crime (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 49, R&B# 12, Jazz# 2, UK# 81
  • 1986: L is for Lover (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 81, R&B# 30, Jazz# 9, UK# 45
  • 1988: Heart's Horizon (Reprise Records) – US# 75, R&B# 10, Jazz# 1
  • 1992: Heaven and Earth (Warner Bros.) – US# 105, R&B# 30, Jazz# 2
  • 2000: Tomorrow Today (GRP) – US# 137, R&B# 43, Jazz# 1
  • 2002: All I Got (GRP) – US# 137, R&B# 43, Jazz# 3
  • 2004: Accentuate the Positive (GRP) - Jazz# 6
  • 2006: Concord) – US# 58, R&B# 14, Jazz# 1
  • 2008: Christmas (Rhino) - Jazz# 5[9]
  • 2014: My Old Friend Celebrating George Duke (Concord)[2]

Live albums

  • 1977: Look to the Rainbow (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 49, R&B# 19, Jazz# 5
  • 1984: In London (Warner Bros. Records) – US# 125, R&B# 55, Jazz# 10. Sometimes titled "Live in London".
  • 1994: Tenderness (Warner Bros. Records) US# 114, R&B# 25, Jazz# 2. Recorded live in a studio in front of an invited audience.
  • 2012: Al Jarreau And The Metropole Orkest LIVE (Concord Records)


Recorded after 1975

  • 1996: Best of Al Jarreau (Warner Bros. Records) – Jazz No. 8
  • 2008: Love Songs (Rhino)
  • 2009: The Very Best Of Al Jarreau: An Excellent Adventure (Rhino)[10] (This compilation holds one previously unreleased track: "Excellent Adventure")

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 Bill Withers
Songs by Al Green
Songs by various composers
Compilations (recordings before 1974)

Following list is a sampling of compilations, composed of the songs recorded before 1974.

  • 1982: 1965 (Bainbridge).[11][12]
  • 1983: The Masquerade Is Over (Magnum)
  • 1984: Al Jarreau (Forever Gold)
  • 1985: You (Lifetime)
  • 1985: Ain't No Sunshine (Prestige)
  • 1985: Sings Bill Withers (Blue Moon)
  • 1995: Living for You (Synergie Omp); songs by Al Green.
  • 1998: Tribute to Bill Withers (Culture Press)
  • 1998: Improvisations (Blue Moon, 2 discs); also released the same year by Synergie on two separate discs named Improvisations Album One and Improvisations Album Two. These albums contain all the songs recorded before 1974, as listed above.
  • 2001: This One's for You (Hallmark)
  • 2001: Ain't No Sunshine (SRI)
  • 2002: One Note Samba (Traditional Line)
  • 2003: Best of Al Jarreau (Tyrostar)
  • 2005: My Favorite Things (Golden Stars, 3-discs)
  • 2009: Tribute to Al Green (K-tel)
  • 2010: Tribute to Al Green (Platinum Records)

Several of the compilations listed above have different titles and/or year of release, even though they contain the same songs, e.g.:

  • 1965 (1981, Bainbridge) = The Masquerade Is Over (1983, Magnum) = One Note Samba (2002, Traditional Line).
  • You (1985, Lifetime) = Ain't No Sunshine (1985, Prestige) = Sings Bill Withers (1985, Blue Moon) = Tribute to Bill Withers (1998, Culture Press) = This One's for You (2001, Hallmark) = Ain't No Sunshine (2001, SRI).
  • Living for You (1995, Synergie Omp) = Tribute to Al Green (2009 K-tel, 2010 Platinum Records).


  • 1976: "Rainbow In Your Eyes" – R&B No. 92
  • 1977: "Take Five" – R&B No. 91
  • 1978: "Thinkin' About It Too" – R&B No. 55
  • 1980: "Distracted" – R&B No. 61
  • 1980: "Gimme What You Got" – R&B No. 63
  • 1980: "Never Givin' Up" – R&B No. 26
  • 1981: "We're In This Love Together" – US No. 15, R&B No. 6 UK No. 55
  • 1982: "Breakin' Away" – US No. 43, R&B No. 25
  • 1982: "Teach Me Tonight" – US No. 70, R&B No. 51
  • 1982: "Your Precious Love", duet with Randy CrawfordR&B No. 16
  • 1982: "Roof Garden" - NL No. 2
  • 1983: "Boogie Down" – US No. 77, R&B No. 9 UK No. 63, NL No. 14
  • 1983: "Mornin'" – US No. 21, R&B No. 6 UK No. 28, NL No. 16
  • 1983: "Trouble In Paradise" – US No. 63, R&B No. 66 UK No. 36
  • 1984: "After All" – US No. 69, R&B No. 26
  • 1985: "Raging Waters" – R&B No. 42
  • 1986: "L Is For Lover" – R&B No. 42
  • 1986: "Tell Me What I Gotta Do" – R&B No. 37
  • 1986: "The Music Of Goodbye" (from Out Of Africa), duet with Melissa ManchesterAC No. 16
  • 1987: "Moonlighting (theme)" (from Moonlighting) – US No. 23, R&B No. 32, UK No. 8, AC#1
  • 1988: "So Good" R&B No. 2
  • 1989: "All of My Love" – R&B No. 69
  • 1989: "All or Nothing at All" – R&B No. 59
  • 1992: "Blue Angel" – R&B No. 74
  • 1992: "It's Not Hard to Love You" – R&B No. 36
  • 2001: "In My Music" (with Phife Dawg)[9]

Soundtrack inclusions

  • 1982: "Girls Know How", in American movie Night Shift (Warner Bros)
  • 1984: "Moonlighting (theme)" and "Since I Fell For You", in American television show Moonlighting (Universal)
  • 1984: "Boogie Down", in American movie Breakin' (Warner Bros)
  • 1986: "The Music Of Goodbye", duet with Melissa Manchester, in American movie Out of Africa (MCA Records)
  • 1989: "Never Explain Love", in American movie Do The Right Thing (Motown)
  • 1992: "Blue Skies", in American movie Glengarry Glen Ross (New Line Cinema)

Guest appearances


Grammy Awards

Year Awarded Category Nomination Notes
1978 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Look to the Rainbow (1977)
1979 All Fly Home (1978)
1981 Best Recording for Children In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record (1980) Together with other artists
1982 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Breakin' Away (1981)
Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male "(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo à la Turk" (1981)
1993 Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Heaven and Earth (1992)
2007 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance "God Bless the Child" (2006) Together with Jill Scott
1981 Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male "Never Givin' Up" (1980)
1982 Album of the Year Breakin' Away (1981) Together with Jay Graydon
1984 Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) Jarreau (1983) For Jay Graydon
Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical For 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
1985 Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal "Edgartown Groove" (1984) Together with Kashif
1986 Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male High Crime (1984)
1987 "Since I Fell for You" (1986)
1988 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male "Moonlighting (theme)" (1987) from the TV series Moonlighting (1987)
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television Together with Lee Holdridge
1990 Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Heart's Horizon (1988)
1995 "Wait for the Magic" (1994)
2005 Best Jazz Vocal Album Accentuate the Positive (2004)
2007 Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal "Breezin'" (2006) Together with George Benson
2013 Best Jazz Vocal Album Live (2012) Together with The Metropole Orkest
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) "Spain (I Can Recall)" (2012) For Vince Mendoza
Best Children's Album JumpinJazz Kids - A Swinging Jungle Tale (2012) Together with James Murray and other artists

Hall of Fame

Year Awarded Award
2001 Hollywood Walk of Fame
2012 SoulMusic Hall of Fame at

Honorary degrees

Year Awarded Degree University
1991 Honorary Doctorate of Music Berklee College of Music
2004 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts University of Wisconsin–Madison


  1. ^ a b c "Brief official bio". 
  2. ^ a b Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Mich: Gale, 2009.
  3. ^ See Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  4. ^ (AFP) –. "AFP: US jazz singer Al Jarreau critically ill in France". Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  5. ^ "US jazz singer Al Jarreau critically ill in hospital". 
  6. ^ "Al Jarreau Stable, Changes Hospitals in France".  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ "Welcome to – The Official site For Al Jarreau – 7 Time Grammy Award Winning Jazz / Crossover Legend!". Archived from the original on July 22, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  11. ^ "1965 (Musical CD, 1982)". Worldcat. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  12. ^ Feather, Leonard. "Jazz Briefs". The Los Angeles Times. July 4, 1982. Retrieved 2013-04-17.

External links

  • Official website
  • Audio interview with Al Jarreau on the Sodajerker on Songwriting podcast
  • "Al Jarreau performs 'You Don't See Me'" on the WGBH series, Say Brother
  • Al Jarreau 2006 Interview with George Benson on Sidewalks Entertainment
  • Al Jarreau 2006 Interview
  • Al Jarreau 2011 interview
  • Grammy Awards
  • Honorary Degree Recipients (Berklee College of Music)
  • Honorary Doctorate (University of Wisconsin–Madison)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
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