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Milwaukee aims to honor jazz icon Al Jarreau on USPS stamp

todayApril 3, 2024 1

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Milwaukee Common Council Aims to honor Jazz icon Al Jarreau on USPS Stamp, Al Jarreau stamp,

The Milwaukee Common Council is pushing to honor one of the city’s most celebrated native sons, Al Jarreau, by featuring his likeness on a United States Postal Service stamp. In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the council members highlighted Jarreau’s immense contributions to American music and his enduring connection to his hometown.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1940, Jarreau grew up in a musical family, with his father being a church singer and his mother a church pianist. He began singing at a young age, performing in church concerts and benefits with his family. After graduating from Ripon College with a degree in psychology and later earning a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, Jarreau initially worked as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco. However, his passion for music eventually led him to pursue a full-time career in singing. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez, and their duo became a popular attraction at a small club in Sausalito, California.

Breakthrough and Commercial Success

Jarreau’s career breakthrough came in 1977 with the release of his live double album “Look to the Rainbow,” which earned him his first Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. His fourth album, “All Fly Home” (1978), brought him further acclaim and a second Grammy for Best Jazz Vocalist. The 1981 album “Breakin’ Away” was a major commercial success, spending two years on the Billboard 200 chart and winning Jarreau the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. This album is considered one of the finest examples of the Los Angeles jazz sound and solidified Jarreau’s reputation as a crossover artist.

Versatility and Accolades

Throughout his illustrious five-decade career, Al Jarreau achieved remarkable success, winning seven Grammy Awards across three different genres – jazz, pop, and R&B. He demonstrated remarkable versatility, seamlessly blending elements of jazz, pop, R&B, and funk into his unique vocal style. Jarreau was known for his innovative use of scat singing, vocal improvisation, and his ability to mimic various instruments with his voice.

In addition to his Grammy Awards, Jarreau received numerous other accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2001 and induction into the SoulMusic Hall of Fame in 2012. He was also awarded honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recognizing his contributions to music education and the arts.

Honoring a Milwaukee Legend

The Milwaukee Common Council’s request to feature Al Jarreau on a postage stamp is not the first effort to honor the late artist’s legacy. The city recently renamed Cawker Park at 2929 N. 30th St., after him. However, the council believes Jarreau’s impact on American culture warrants national recognition.

In their letter to President Biden, the council members wrote, “For all the foregoing reasons, we respectfully ask that his likeness be added to those already included on postage stamps for their contributions to culture.” The letter was signed by all members of the Common Council, demonstrating the city’s united front in celebrating one of its most accomplished and beloved natives.

A Lasting Impact

Al Jarreau’s innovative musical expressions and unique vocal style have made him one of the most exciting and critically acclaimed performers of his time. He was a true pioneer, helping to create the “smooth jazz” subgenre and leaving an indelible mark on the music industry. Despite his global success and constant touring schedule, Jarreau remained deeply connected to his Milwaukee roots, often returning to encourage young individuals to pursue their passions.

As the city of Milwaukee awaits a response from the White House, fans and admirers of Al Jarreau’s work can take pride knowing that his hometown is working tirelessly to secure the recognition he so richly deserves. His legacy as a versatile and influential artist and his commitment to his community will continue to inspire generations of musicians and music lovers alike.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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