Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2005 | People

Jazz Honors: Al Jarreau

By IAM Staff
The UI honors Al Jarreau in Los Angeles.

Al Jarreau

If you’re a jazz-loving UI alumnus or friend, there was only one place to be on April 6—the Conga Room nightclub in Los Angeles, where Grammy-winning legend Al Jarreau and University of Iowa President David Skorton took to the stage together.

One of the events in the ongoing Iowa Stories series arranged by the Los Angeles Iowa Club, the evening of music and conversation celebrated Jarreau’s career and also his ties to the UI. More than 100 alumni and friends packed into the intimate venue to hear a jazz band play the songs that have earned Jarreau fans around the world. Jarreau joined the band for a few numbers, and President Skorton also showcased his own skills on jazz flute.

For the second part of the evening, Jarreau and President Skorton switched to a different, slower pace. With a shimmering silver curtain behind them and spotlights beaming down, they explored some of the highlights of the singer’s career. The audience was delighted to learn some of the stories behind best-selling albums and hits such as the theme to the Moonlighting TV series. A friend of Jarreau’s convinced the singer to record that particular song, although he warned that the series might not last long. After all, it starred some unknown actor named Bruce Willis.

With five Grammy awards to his credit, Jarreau is one of the few performers to have won in the three categories of jazz, pop, and R&B. In recognition of these significant contributions to music, as well as gratitude for his ongoing support, the University of Iowa honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Awardthis year. As the demands of his career prevent Jarreau from attending the award ceremony in Iowa City this month, President Skorton presented the award in Los Angeles at the event organized by the Los Angeles Iowa Club, the UIAA, and the UI Foundation. “This was a very special evening for me and for all who were there to witness and share Mr. Jarreau’s talent, generosity, and great human spirit,” said President Skorton. “He has given so selflessly to our university again and again, and his participation in the music, conversation, and recollections of the evening showed clearly why he is truly a distinguished alumnus of the highest order. It was a time I’ll never forget!”

As he accepted the award, Jarreau spoke fondly of his time at the university and his memories of the people of Iowa.

It was a heart-warming end to an unforgettable event—one that Jarreau seemed reluctant to leave. Throughout the evening, he mingled with the audience, chatting, laughing, and winning everyone over with his warmth and charm. Even as the Conga Room prepared to close its doors, Jarreau still lingered—delighting his fans and friends with one last tale, one more memory.