Al Jarreau Named Verizon's National Literacy Champion

NEW YORK - Al Jarreau, the Grammy Award-winning jazz musician, is adding rhythm and rhyme to the company's philanthropy program -- Verizon Reads. Jarreau has accepted the role of national Verizon Literacy Champion.

Verizon partners with celebrities across the country who donate their image and time to help bring attention to the critical problem of low literacy in the U.S. and to raise funds for the issue. The Verizon Literacy Champion program builds awareness through media campaigns that include posters in Verizon stores, bill inserts, calling cards and newspaper inserts, as well as marketing activities and community literacy-awareness events.

Jarreau will join local Verizon Literacy Champions who are part of the company's signature philanthropy program -- Verizon Reads - which works to create awareness and raise funds to support literacy.

"I am proud to be a Verizon Literacy Champion, because it gives me an opportunity to give back to the communities that have supported me throughout my career," Jarreau said. "I am lucky my profession gives me this unique chance to support such an important cause."

To emphasize the importance of reading, Jarreau will read "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop" to a group of children from the Bronx at a kick-off event today at The Scholastic Store at 557 Broadway in Manhattan. The book's author, Chris Raschka, will join Jarreau to sign copies of his book.

Music, learning and literacy are closely linked. Students in music programs typically have higher grade-point averages than students in the same school who do not study music. Research reveals that learning to play an instrument enhances the skills necessary for reading such as concentration, listening, anticipation and memorization.

"The cause of literacy will receive a tremendous boost as Al Jarreau joins Verizon in our commitment to be America's literacy champion," said Bruce Gordon, president-Verizon Retail Markets Group. "We believe his donation of time and talent will be an inspiration to many to get involved - to make a difference by reading to a child, donating a book or encouraging someone struggling with low literacy skills to seek help."

Jarreau Headlines at Verizon Music Festival and Donates Percentage of Album Sales

In addition to his role as Verizon's national Literacy Champion, Jarreau is among the headliners for the Verizon Music Festival in New York City's Battery Park on Sept. 21; Los Angeles' Wadsworth Theater on Oct. 4; and Tampa's Coachman Park on Nov. 2. Book donations and contributions collected during the concerts will benefit NYC Reads, Southern California Reads and Tampa Bay Reads literacy programs.

Jarreau will spend time with children in each of the concert cities reading "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop." Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company and national partner of Verizon's literacy program, publishes "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop" and will donate the books distributed to children at the events.

In addition, Jarreau's record label - The Verve Music Group - will contribute a percentage of the sales from Jarreau's new album, "All I Got," to Verizon Reads for distribution to literacy programs across the country. The album is scheduled for release later this month.

"Music is the universal language; it has the power to transform people's lives," said Ron Goldstein, Verve Music group president and CEO. "As the world's leading adult music label, Verve is committed to using its resources to promote literacy at every level of society, and we are delighted to join Verizon as a partner in its commitment to literacy."

The Verve Music Group

The Verve Music Group is a division of the Universal Music Group, a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company. Based in New York, The Verve Music Group houses the Verve, GRP, Impulse!, and Blue Thumb record labels. Top Verve artists include: George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, David Sanborn, Regina Carter and Danilo Perez. Some of the jazz greats from the label group's historic catalog include John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 135.1 million access line equivalents and 30.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 241,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


Media contact:

Larry Plumb, Verizon, 703-974-3428

John Bonomo, Verizon, 212-395-7756

J'ai St. Laurent-Smyth, Verve, 212-331-2047

Adrienne Citrin, Scholastic, 212-343-6653