As we know by Sunday Afternoon, we lost the legendary Alwyn Lopez Jarreau. Or to many, Al Jarreau. So far this week, we have heard tributes from News One, to those playing the music that gravitated us to hear.
Many of us are griveing and shocked that he already announced his retirement after 50 years in music. But also passed on way after that. At age 76 years old, he made himself well known.
Yes, he had to go west to get well known after he got his master’s degree in Iowa. And the saying goes, the rest is history. But there is ONE caveat that is part of this. One word: Milwaukee. The same Milwaukee that many don’t want to come back all because of whatever. More on that later.
Al got his start in my hometown of Milwaukee in church. He was a graduate of Lincoln High School (now called Lincoln Center of the Arts) from the class of 1958. Lincoln High School was a rival school to North Division High School which was way before Rufus King and Riverside University High School’s rivarly were thought about.His parents were in ministry and a pianist in the church where he got his start. From his high school days to his career in the music game as I said before, Al was getting noticed.
He had his share of hits from “We’re In this Love Together”, “Mornin”, “What you do to me”, “Boogie Down”, a theme song from the 80’s TV show, “Moonlighting”, to “In My Music.” Oh, he did a Christmas Album too. Plus he did a song in 1976 about his hometown, “Milwaukee” from his album “Glow” mentioning his move out west to California with the Old Milwaukee Road in between.
Speaking of the songs, and yes many of you went to his concerts over the years. And most definitely that Al did Milwaukee gigs at Potowanomi Bingo for his homecoming concerts. Even singing the National Anthem at a UW- Milwaukee Panthers Game.
Yes Americans, he followed his dream as summarized on the Because of them we can Facebook Page. BUT……He did came back to Milwaukee for not only other music concerts, he came back to visit the students in the schools to give them some knowledge and advice about their gift of music. Most recently, he was at The Milwaukee High School of the Arts, (for you MPS Alumni old heads, West Division High School) providing that notion. He also expressed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that the kids today in Milwaukee aren’t getting the same music opportunities as him back in his MPS days. Yes, Al Jarreau was a MPS Alumni member. Plus he hoped that the kids would get music in the schools to maintain just as science, technology, engineering, and yes math. Music is just as important in the schools like Gym Classes or sport teams. Period. I am a living witness to this as a music dude myself blowing Saxophones since 1989. 7th Grade. So yes, Music/Arts in Public Schools does matter.
Now I want to say this: For you fans, he was a great musician. For us in Milwaukee, he was our native son. Hope you all respect that.
Now for us in Milwaukee: if we can get the stuff lit in orange, or purple for Prince, we need to light up our landmarks in Al’s favorite color in symbolic of him. I’m dead serious. If we say we love him or admire him, light up Miller Park, his schools, City Hall, the Art Museum, Summerfest, or any other Landmark in honor of him. Light up all the Milwaukee Landmarks. Period.
For Summerfest: we know the 50th Anniversary is coming in June. Expecting all fest folks to come out. I would like to see a all star Milwaukee tribute in honor of Al Jarreau! I’m calling the locals who follow Al’s music, to the famous Milwaukee folks like Eric Benet, Speech from Arrested Development, to Tank even a Core DJ that is really known famous and is Milwaukee Born, get yourselves to Summerfest this Summer and get this tribute thing started. If I can think of a good Summerfest 50th Anniversary Celebration idea, this could be it. So I’m challenging the Community, the Landmarks, the musicians, the famous fans like all over, and even us at heart, get that set up! If any relatives or family members are reading this, ponder this for a moment after your bereavement.
Not only that, expand that energy back to the students. They are looking at this and one day in the next era, they might pick up the advice that Al Jarreau said and keep playing. Speaking of that: we all know that Al Jarreau’s Homegoing is going to be private. And since the donation factor of his cause is still open, I urge all supporters to go to this website: UPAF.org. For you folks outside of Milwaukee, it’s the United Performing Arts Fund. It’s been around since 1967 in the recognitions of Milwaukee’s Arts of Music, Dance, Theater, and many of the fine arts that had produced locally. Matter of fact, read about the mini summary of the organization here:
Let’s keep the name alive for him. Al Jarreau has given us 50 years of what he knew and let’s give him some love back in his memory!