Harry Connick, Jr. born as Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. is a well- known American singer and musician. Having sold over 28 million albums worldwide, and reaching 16 million in certified sales, Recording Industry Association of America ranked him among the top 60 best-selling male artists in the history of the United States, in line with great artists like
, The Eagles, Billy Joel and
. He has won three Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, has released ten chart-topping US jazz albums, seven top-20 US albums, and has earned more number-one albums compared to any other artist in his genre, all in a career spanning 39 years and counting.
Connick was born in the city of New Orleans, situated in the State of Louisiana, to Anita Frances and Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Sr. Both his parents were high profile lawyers; his mother being a Supreme Court Justice of the State of Louisiana, and his father being the District Attorney. Connick, with his parents and his little sister Suzanna, lived in Lakeview, a neighborhood of the city of New Orleans. His family also ran a record store in the neighborhood. Connick lost his mother to Ovarian cancer at a very young age, leaving his family, and especially him, very devastated, as he was very close to his mother. Connick is of English, German, and Irish ancestry, on his father's side. His father is a practicing Catholic, but his late mother was Jewish.
Connick's stepping stone into music was the keyboard, which he took up at the tender age of three, playing for the first time in public when he turned five. By the time Connick was ten, he started recording jazz with a local band. Connick joined the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and had the honor of honing his skills under the local legends - James Booker and Ellis Marsalis, Jr. James Booker was a family friend, who used to stop by the Connick house, now and then, but Ellis Marsalis, Jr. was very tough on little Connick, going to the extent of asking him to leave music. Connick thanked Ellis for what he did when he grew up.
Connick did most of his schooling in the city of New Orleans. He got enrolled in jazz and classical music courses at New Orleans’ Loyola University, but later dropped out and joined the prestigious Manhattan School of Music and Hunter College, when he moved to New York.
While in NYC, Connick met Dr. George Butler, the then Sr. Vice President of Columbia Records, and on his persuasion, he signed up with the label. His first album with Columbia Records was Harry Connick Junior, which he dedicated to his late mother, with a song devoted to his mentor, James Booker. To build his reputation, he started playing at prominent New York Avenues and his second album, 20, featuring his vocals, added to his growing reputation.
In 1989, he was approached by Rob Reiner, who wanted him to contribute to the soundtrack of his upcoming romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. The film went on to become a massive hit, earning Connick his first ever Grammy Award, with the soundtrack gaining double-platinum status. Connick also tried his hand at acting, in the 1990 film, Memphis Belle. After finishing the movie, Connick went on a world tour lasting two years.
Later that year, he simultaneously released two new albums with Columbia Records: a trio instrumental Lofty's Roach Soufflé, and orchestral We Are in Love. He handled the vocals and played the piano in Lofty’s Roach Soufflé, with Shannon Powell on drums and Benjamin Jonah Wolfe playing the bass. We Are in Love topped the jazz charts, went on to gain double platinum status, and brought Connick his second Grammy Award.
The year 1991 saw Connick getting nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar, for his contributions to the soundtrack of the 1990 blockbuster, Godfather III. Later that year, he also got an Emmy Award nomination, for his live performance in “Swinging' Out Live”, filmed in Dallas, at the Majestic Theatre.
His next album, Blue Light, Red Light, released in 1991, went on to become his third multi-platinum hit; it included his 14-piece big band, with him on the vocals and playing the piano. The same month, he played a supporting role in Jodie Foster's directorial debut, Little Man Tate. The film received positive reviews from critics. Connick's solo piano collection with some pop standards, 25, gained platinum status after being released in 1992.
Connick, Jr. remained away from controversies throughout his career, but in December 1992, he was arrested by the Port Authority Police, for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint, at the JFK International Airport.
He also contributed to the soundtrack of the 1993 film, Sleepless in Seattle. His album Eleven, initially released as Pure Dixieland in 1979, was re-released in 1993. His first Christmas album, When My Heart Finds Christmas, got Triple Platinum certified, sold over 750,000 copies, and became the best-selling Christmas album that year.
Connick came up with a funk album, She, in 1994, which also became a platinum hit. In addition to it, he also contributed to the soundtrack of the Jim Carrey starring comedy, The Mask, which became a commercial success."Whisper Your Name", a song from the movie's soundtrack, became Connick's most successful single to date.
Connick married Jill Goodacre, a former model, on April 16, 1994. He also wrote a song about her called - "Jill,” for his album, Blue Light, Red Light. The couple currently reside in Louisiana, with their three little daughters: Georgia, Sarah, and Charlotte.
Connick took a tour of the United Kingdom and China in 1994 and 1995, respectively. He played the antagonist in the 1995 release, ‘Copycat’. Star Turtle, his next funk album, which had many more genres apart from funk, was a huge disappointment, compared to his previous releases. In 1996, he played a supporting role in the biggest commercial success of the year, Independence Day, along with Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith.
A flight attendant asked Connick if he had any romantic records, and as a response, Connick released an album, To See You, in 1997, for which he recorded love songs. "Come By Me”, a single from the album, reached 53 on Billboard 200, and topped the jazz charts that year. He took a full symphony orchestra to back him up on his tour to the United States and Europe. Keeping his film career alive, he starred opposite to Alicia Silverstone, in the 1997 release, Excess Baggage.
He played his first lead role opposite to Sandra Bullock, in Forest Whitaker's romantic drama, Hope Floats, which came out in 1998. The movie was a mild success. He visited Japan, Europe, Australia, and the United States as a part of his world tour. Connick got nominated for a Tony Award, for working on the score of Thou Shalt Not, a Broadway musical directed by Susan Stroman; the musical was based on Émile Zola's novel, Thérèse Raquin, and opened at Plymouth Theatre.
In 2001, he worked as a narrator for the family drama film, My Dog Skip, directed by Jay Russell; based on the autobiography of the same name by Willie Morris. The film became a major box office success, earning $35 Million on a $7 Million budget, and also won a Critic’s Choice Award.
Connick also worked on a TV production with Glenn Close, in March 2001, and also completed working on the Hugh Wilson’s, ‘Mickey’, a baseball drama which came out that same year. In October that year, he released two albums, simultaneously: 30 and Songs I Heard. Songs I Heard, was Connick’s take on movies he remembered watching as a kid. He won his third Grammy Award for the album, Songs I Heard. In 2002, Connick played the role of Leo Markus, the boyfriend of the lead character, Grace Adler, on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace; the show got positive reviews from critics, and has been called the most successful TV series dealing with homosexuality.
In July 2003, after thirteen years of gap, his first instrumental album and also his first quartet, Other Hours Connick on Piano Volume 1, was released by Branford Marsalis’ Marsalis Music, and became his career’s first album not released by Columbia. He also appeared on the mystery-thriller, ‘Basic’, playing the character of a doctor. In October, Harry for Holidays, his second Christmas album, which featured a full string section and Connick’s 16 Pieces Big Band, reached No. 12 on Billboard 200, and went gold.
In February 2004, he finished working on, Only You, his seventeenth album with Columbia Records, which charted top ten in both the US and the UK, and got both gold and platinum certified, in the United States. He visited Australia, Asia, and America, as part of his - The Only You tour. He won an Emmy Award, for his Great Special Performance of "Only You", in the category of Outstanding Music Direction.
Connick, Jr. was involved in many humanitarian efforts; In 2005, to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, he helped organize, and also appeared in a live telethon concert, A Concert for Hurricane Relief. He was also involved in a long-term house rebuilding plan for the victimized families. For his actions, he was presented with a Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Connick rolled up his sleeves, and worked as the narrator, the composer and also as one of the executive producers, for the 3D-animated film, The Happy Elf; based on one of his song of the same name. In 2005, He recorded, Occasion: Connick on Piano, Volume 2, a duo album with Branford Marsalis on saxophone. They both played their jazz compositions, and the album was recorded by Marsalis Music. Connick worked with the director, William Friedkin, on his psychological thriller, ‘Bug’, alongside Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd. The film got released in 2007; it was not a major box office success, but garnered rave reviews from critics.
He hosted a miniseries, 100 Biggest Weather Moments in 2007, which aired on The Weather Channel. It was the channel’s greatest documentary effort. The same year, he contributed to one of Bob French's album, by sitting in on the piano. Later that year, he worked alongside
on Richard LaGravenese’ super hit drama, P.S. I Love You.
Chanson du Vieux Carré, released in 2007, was Connick’s third album with Marsalis Music and the third album of the Connick on Piano series. It received two nominations at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Connick and singer Kelli O'Hara sang a duet for one of her album released in 2008. Later that year, he appeared as Dr. Dennis Slamon, for the film, Living Proof, a biopic directed by Dan Ireland. That same year, Connick also released What a Night!, his third Christmas album.
In January 2008, Connick began filming Jonas Elmer’s romantic comedy, New in Town, along with Renée Zellweger, appearing as the character Ted Mitchell. Connick's studio album, Your Songs, came out in stores in September 2009. In contrast to Connick's previous works, this album was a collaboration with the record producer, Clive Davis. Connick was part of American Idol for an episode of the 9th season, as a mentor for the season's top finalists. Connick joined the cast of the crime, legal drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, for four episodes, as David Haden, an Executive ADA. Connick again became a mentor to American Idol's finalists for the 12th season. In 2013, he became part of American Idol’s judging panel, alongside
and Jennifer Lopez.
Connick collaborated with outlaw country legend,
, for Angels Sing, a family Christmas movie, produced by Lionsgate and an adaptation of the novel, When Angels Sing by Turk Pipkin.
To restore the musical heritage of New Orleans; Connick, Jr. partnered with Branford Marsalis, founder of Marsalis Music, to help build a Musicians' Village in the city, which would provide music artists, the opportunity to buy decent, affordable housing. In 2012, for their noble efforts, Connick and Marsalis were presented with S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, by Jefferson Awards.
Connick announced another US Summer Tour in mid-2015.