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AL JARREAU’s unique vocal style is one of the world’s most precious treasures. His innovative musical expressions have made him one of the most exciting and critically acclaimed performers of our time, with seven Grammys, scores of international music awards, and popular accolades worldwide.
It’s not surprising that he has perfected his technique to such an art. After all, he has been singing since the age of four, harmonizing with his brothers and performing solo at a variety of local events in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Music, however, was not always the major force in his life. He excelled in sports and was an above-average student throughout high school and college. Enrolling at the respected Ripon College in Wisconsin, Jarreau continued singing for fun, performing locally with a group called The Indigos during weekends and holidays, and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. After moving on to the University of Iowa to earn his Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation, Jarreau subsequently relocated to San Francisco to begin a career in rehabilitation counseling.
In San Francisco, Al’s natural musical gifts began to shape his future. He found himself performing at a small jazz club with a trio headed by George Duke, and by the late ’60s, he knew without a doubt that he would make singing his life. Relocating to Los Angeles, he began his apprenticeship in such famed nightspots as Dino’s, the Troubadour, and the Bitter End West. Shortly thereafter, he branched out to New York City as well, where he gained national network television exposure with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, David Frost, and Mike Douglas.
In 1975, following an extended stint at the Bla Bla Cafe in Los Angeles, Warner Bros. Records talent scouts spotted Al and signed him to a recording contract. His career breakthrough came in 1977 when Warner Bros. Records released Look to the Rainbow, his live double album, which earned Jarreau his first Grammy, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
His fourth album, All Fly Home, was released in 1978 to further accolades and a second Grammy for Best Jazz Vocalist. It was followed by a string of innovative and original offerings, including the million-selling Breakin’ Away, which brought him a broader audience and two more Grammy awards for Best Male Pop Vocalist and Best Male Jazz Vocalist. Following the live album, Jarreau teamed with top producer Nile Rodgers for L is for Lover, which brought some new styles and sounds to the singer’s repertoire. He continued to top the stateside charts in 1987 and became a weekly guest in America’s living rooms singing the Grammy-nominated theme song for the hit television series Moonlighting. 1992’s Heaven and Earth earned Jarreau’s fifth Grammy, for Best R&B Vocal Performance. With this, Al became one the rare artists to have won Grammys in the categories of jazz, pop, and R&B.
In 1996, while on a break from touring, Jarreau accepted a three-month stint on Broadway playing the role of the Teen Angel in the hit musical Grease! Other acting credits include guest-star appearances on Fox’s New York Undercover, NBC’s Touched by an Angel, and a national McDonald’s commercial with R&B sensation Vesta Williams.
In 1999, for the first time, Al Jarreau teamed up with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe performing his most popular hits as never heard before as well as some favorites from Broadway and the classics, which received outstanding reviews. Al continues to perform symphony shows on a regular basis.
In 2001, Jarreau added a new chapter to his 25-year recording career with Tomorrow Today (2001), his GRP Records debut. He also received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, commemorating his status as one of the best singers of his generation. He spent the remainder of 2001 touring the United States, Europe, and South Africa and working on his next album, All I Got (2002). This was followed by the Grammy-nominated Accentuate The Positive (2004).
Jarreau’s 30th year in the music business saw another landmark with the pairing up with his peer, the legendary R&B guitarist and singer George Benson, for the album Givin’ It Up. Recorded in Spring of 2006, this record featured many guest artists including Herbie Hancock, Sir Paul McCartney, Jill Scott, Chris Botti, and Patti Austin, among other musical veterans. Givin’ It Up was released to critical acclaim on October 24, 2006 by Concord Music Group/Monster Music and garnered Grammy nominations, for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, for “Breezin'” (nomination only), and two Grammy wins in 2007, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “God Bless The Child” feat. Jill Scott, and Best Pop Instrumental for “Mornin’.”
Early in 2008, Al handpicked his favorite romantic tunes spanning three decades for his Love Songs, a 14-track compilation that was released on Rhino/Warner Music Group. He also helped the Playboy Jazz Festival celebrate its 30-year anniversary by headlining a sold-out opening night at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
In 2008 Al released his first-ever Yuletide album, Christmas. The album features his warm and inimitable voice interpreting a dozen holiday classics, including “The Christmas Song,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Carol Of The Bells.”
Still one of the hardest working men in show business, Al took a 6-week European spring tour in 2009, visiting theaters and festivals in Germany, France, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and North America. In the middle of all this, Al also found the time to put together The Very Best of Al Jarreau: An Excellent Adventure. The 16-song collection highlights some of Al’s best-known songs, alongside one new track, “Excellent Adventure.” After more than 30 years, Al Jarreau is undoubtedly one of the greatest performers and innovative vocalists the music world has ever known. Time magazine called him “the greatest jazz singer alive” and The Very Best Of Al Jarreau: An Excellent Adventure illustrates perfectly the reason why.
Al continues to tour extensively worldwide, with his sextet and symphony shows, and is currently in studio working on a new album.