As announced by a statement on his website, Grammy-winning jazz singer Al Jarreau has died. No cause of death has been given, but he recently canceled all of his upcoming tour dates and had been hospitalized. He was 76.
The statement on Jarreau’s website explains that music was his “second priority in life,” with the first—”far ahead of the other”—being “healing or comforting anyone in need.” It continues by saying that Jarreau “needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before,” and that music was “his tool for making that happen.” It closes by addressing “young people everywhere,” especially the many aspiring musicians he met at schools, competitions, and concerts, saying that he’d want them to “find any artistic thing” they can do and then, simply, “do it.”
Jarreau was born in Wisconsin in 1940, with his father being a minister/singer and his mother being a church pianist. Because of that, his family would sing at church concerts, and he developed an interest in music at a young age. After earning a degree in vocational rehabilitation and starting a career as a social worker, he moved to California and started singing in jazz clubs. By 1968, he was determined to make jazz his full-time job, and he eventually worked his way to becoming one of the most famous jazz singers of all time. As Variety notes, he’s the only singer to ever win Grammys in the jazz, pop, and R&B categories thanks to songs like “We’re In This Love Together,” “After All,” and “Never Givin’ Up.”
A lifelong advocate for education, Jarreau’s Twitter account as asked that fans make donations to the Wisconsin Foundation For School Music:
— Al Jarreau (@AlJarreau) February 12, 2017
Jarreau is survived by his wife and son.