Currently, Jarreau is recording an album for the GRP label, featuring a duet with Vanessa Williams singing "God's Gift to the World." Although Jarreau's busy tour schedule is taking him to Europe and throughout the United States he brings his celebrated vocal style home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to honor Thomas Cheeks.
THOMAS M. CHEEKS
Cheeks grew up in Oxford, Ohio and received his bachelor of science in education from Miami University in Oxford. He received his master's degree in education from Indiana University and continued his education at Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. His first job in education was as head basketball coach at Lincoln High in Evansville, Indiana, where his team won the invitational 1940 Southern Inter-Scholastic Basketball Tournament at Tuskegee Institute.
Cheeks' education and experience led him to Milwaukee to become a track and basketball coach and teacher at Lincoln High School, the first African American in a Milwaukee public secondary school, and a role model to his young black students. An inspirational teacher, Cheeks lovingly guided these young men and offered support and leadership through the Knights of Lincoln High, a group he organized for the purpose of providing an important outlet to raise issues and problems so crucial to them.
Thomas Cheeks has given much to the Milwaukee community. He was co-organizer of the Milwaukee Chapter of The Frontiers International, co-chairman of the civic group, "We Milwaukeeans," and served two terms on the Wisconsin Coordinating Committee of Higher Education. He has also served on the boards of Junior Achievement, the State Historical Society, Goodwill Industries, and Inroads. He was the first African American in Milwaukee County to receive the Gold Good Citizenship Award presented by the Milwaukee Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Society and the first African American to receive the William C. Frye Outstanding Citizenship Award, presented by the Milwaukee Foundation.
Perhaps the most admirable testimonial to Cheeks is the myriad students who, to this day, stay in touch with their mentor. Surely the personal attention he bestowed on his students helped them to become productive and accomplished individuals, and, as a group, effective, successful citizens.
This event was not only a wonderful performance for jazz connoisseurs but helped to raise money for the Thomas Cheeks scholarship fund. This foundation assists African-American students attending the University of Milwaukee studying in the field of Education. Anyone wishing to contribute to this cause may send donations to: (UWM School of Education - Scholarships; PO Box 413; Milwaukee, WI 53201) or call in your donations to the UWM School of Education (414-229-5072).