MILWAUKEE - Al Jarreau, the Grammy Award-winning jazz musician and champion for literacy, will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree on Sunday, May 23, from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
Jarreau will deliver the commencement address to an estimated 2,000 bachelor's degree candidates at the 1 p.m. ceremony. Born and raised in Milwaukee, he is the only vocalist to win five Grammy awards in three different categories. His recording career began in 1975, and his tours have covered nearly 20 countries.
Jarreau is receiving this honor in part because of his commitment to education and literacy. His address will stress the importance of community service in an effort to motivate young people, regardless of their chosen profession, to become mentors and teachers. He accepted the role as a national volunteer spokesman and literacy champion for the Verizon Reads program in 2002. In addition, Jarreau's record label - The Verve Music Group - contributes a percentage of the sales from his album, "All I Got," to Verizon Reads for distribution to literacy programs across the country.
"Verizon is pleased that such a deserving individual is being recognized for his many contributions to society," said Andy Brown, executive director-public affairs programs for Verizon. "Al Jarreau has been a long-time champion of education and has worked tirelessly to support our company's efforts to raise literacy levels in America."
Verizon Literacy Champions are part of the company's signature philanthropy program -- Verizon Reads -- which works to create awareness and raise funds to support literacy. Literacy Champions include 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.
"I have been supporting the fight for better literacy skills since the 1960s, when I was in college," said Jarreau. "Children who have a special interest, like music, can use reading to learn about great composers and musicians. Developing a love for something makes reading about it second nature."
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