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An American Treasure: A Tribute to Al Jarreau

An American Treasure By Vic McLean

image courtesy of Concord Music Group

Alwin Lopez Jarreau (March 12, 1940 – February 12, 2017), better known as Al Jarreau, was a singer, musician, educator, humanitarian, and most of all, a very special friend. He was a light that shined brightly upon all around him, and a spirit that made him an American Treasure. When you reflect on his body of work, the theme “gifted versatility” is the primary description that comes to mind. Al is the only artist in the history of the music business to win Grammy’s in three different categories – pop, R&B and jazz.

Jarreau received a total of seven Grammy awards and was nominated for many more. However that is just a small part of what made him unique and special. His ability to reach all kinds of people separated him from practically anyone else you would call a celebrity. He would always take time to talk with anyone who came to see him perform, and he made each and every individual he spent even a few moments with, feel truly special. His belief in trying to raise those up around him, elevated him as well. He could be feisty at times, but you could never get really mad at him… he could charm the anger right out of you.

Al was a diligent worker, and true professional who was willing to do whatever was necessary to support all who worked with him. He never let anything he did or didn’t do keep you from doing your job, and you loved him for that too. His way of life as an artist and a person is a shining example to be emulated by all those seeking to have a successful and fulfilling career in our industry.

For everyone who was blessed to know him, meet him, or work with him, we feel a profound sense of loss, but for his sake, we all must take solace in the fact that as he sang so powerfully in his 1983 Grammy winning song “Mornin”, he can now truly “Touch the Face of God”.

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