Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. (born September 11, 1967) is an American singer, big-band leader/conductor, pianist, actor, and composer. He has sold over 25 million albums worldwide. Connick is ranked among the top 60 best-selling male artists in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America, with 16 million in certified sales. He has seven top-20 US albums, and ten number-one US jazz albums, earning more number-one albums than any other artist in the US jazz chart history.
Connick's best selling album in the United States is his 1993 Christmas album When My Heart Finds Christmas, which also is one of the best selling Christmas albums in the United States. His highest charting album, is his 2004 release Only You which reached #5 in the U.S. and #6 in Britain. He has won three Grammy awards and two Emmy Awards. He played Grace's husband, Dr. Leo Markus, on the TV sitcom Will & Grace from 2002 to 2006.
Connick began his acting career as a tail gunner in the World War II film, Memphis Belle, in 1990. He played a serial killer in Copycat in 1995, before being cast as jet fighter pilot in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. Connick's first role as a leading man was in 1998's Hope Floats with Sandra Bullock. His first thriller film since Copycat came in 2007, when he played the violent ex-husband in Bug, before two romantic comedies, 2007's P.S. I Love You, and the leading man in New in Town with Renée Zellweger in 2009.
Connick, Jr., was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. His mother, Anita Frances (née Levy; later Livingston; May 22, 1926 -- July 1981), was a lawyer and judge in New Orleans and, later, a Louisiana Supreme Court justice. His father, Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Sr., was the district attorney of Orleans Parish from 1973-2003. His parents also owned a record store. Connick, Jr.'s father is a Catholic of Irish ancestry. Connick, Jr.'s mother, who died from ovarian cancer, was Jewish (her parents had immigrated from Minsk, Russia and Vienna, Austria). Connick, Jr. has a sister, Suzanna; the siblings were raised in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Connick is the first cousin of Jefferson Parish District Attorney, Paul Connick, and State Representative, Patrick Connick, of Harvey, also of Jefferson Parish.
Connick's musical talents soon came to the fore when he started learning the keyboards at age three, playing publicly at age five, and recording with a local jazz band at ten. When Connick, Jr., was nine years old, he performed the Piano Concerto No. 3 Opus 37 of Beethoven with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra (now the Louisiana Philharmonic), and later played a duet with Eubie Blake at the Royal Orleans Esplanade Lounge in New Orleans. The song was "I'm Just Wild About Harry". This was recorded for a Japanese documentary called Jazz Around the World. The clip was also shown in a Bravo special, called Worlds of Harry Connick, Jr. in 1999. His musical talents were developed at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis and James Booker.
Connick attended Jesuit High School, Isidore Newman School, Lakeview School, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, all in New Orleans. Following an unsuccessful attempt to study jazz academically, and having given recitals in the classical and jazz piano programs at Loyola University, Connick moved to the 92nd Street YMHA in New York City to study at Hunter College and the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, where a Columbia Records executive Sr. V.P. of A&R, Dr. George Butler, persuaded him to sign with that label. His first record for the label, Harry Connick Jr., was a mainly instrumental album of standards. He soon acquired a reputation in jazz because of extended stays at high-profile New York venues. His next album, 20, featured his vocals and added to this reputation.
When Harry Met Sally..., chart and movie success:
With Connick's reputation growing, director Rob Reiner asked him to provide a soundtrack for his 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally..., starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. The soundtrack consisted of several standards, including "It Had to Be You", "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and achieved double-platinum status in the United States. He won his first Grammy for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance for his work on the soundtrack.
Connick made his screen debut in Memphis Belle (1990), about a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber crew in World War II. In that year he began a two-year world tour. In addition he released two albums in July 1990: the instrumental jazz trio album Lofty's Roach Souffle and a big-band album of mostly original songs titled We Are in Love, which also went double platinum. We Are in Love earned him his second consecutive Grammy for Best Jazz Male Vocal.
"Promise Me You'll Remember", his contribution to the Godfather III soundtrack, was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1991. In a year of recognition, he was also nominated for an Emmy for Best Performance in a Variety Special for his PBS special Swingin' Out Live, which was also released as a video. In October 1991 he released his third consecutive multi-platinum album, Blue Light, Red Light, on which he wrote and arranged the songs. Also in October 1991 he starred in Little Man Tate, directed by Jodie Foster, playing the friend of a child prodigy who goes to college.
In November 1992 Connick released 25, a solo piano collection of standards that again went platinum. He also re-released the album Eleven. Connick contributed "A Wink and a Smile" to the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, released in 1993. His multi-platinum album of holiday songs, When My Heart Finds Christmas, was the best-selling Christmas album in 1993.
Flirtation with funk in the mid-1990s:
In 1994, Connick decided to branch out. He released She, an album of New Orleans funk that also went platinum. In addition, he released a song called "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" for the soundtrack of The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, which is his most successful single in the United States to date.
Connick took his funk music on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1994, an effort that did not please some of his fans, who were expecting a jazz crooner. Connick also took his funk music to the People's Republic of China in 1995, playing at the Shanghai Center Theatre. The performance was televised live in China for what became known as the Shanghai Gumbo special. In his third film Copycat, Connick played a serial killer. Released in 1995, Copycat also starred Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. The following year, he released his second funk album, Star Turtle, which did not sell as well as previous albums, although it did reach No. 38 on the charts. However, he appeared in the most successful movie of 1996,Independence Day, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.
Back to basics: return to jazz and Hope Floats:
For his 1997 release To See You, Connick recorded original love songs, touring the United States and Europe with a full symphony orchestra backing him and his piano in each city. As part of his tour, he played at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, with his final concert of that tour in Paris being recorded for a Valentine's Day special on PBS in 1998. He also continued his film career, starring in Excess Baggage opposite Alicia Silverstone and Benicio del Toro in 1997.
In May 1998, he had his first leading role in director Forest Whitaker's Hope Floats, with Sandra Bullock as his female lead. He released Come By Me, his first album of big band music in eight years in 1999, and embarked on a world tour visiting the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition, he provided the voice of Dean McCoppin in the animated film The Iron Giant.
2000-02: Broadway debut, musicals, Will & Grace:
Connick wrote the score for Susan Stroman's Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not, based on Émile Zola's novel Thérèse Raquin, in 2000; it premiered in 2001. His music and lyrics garnerned a Tony Award nomination. He was also the narrator of the film My Dog Skip, released in that year.
In March 2001, Connick starred in a television production of South Pacific with Glenn Close, televised on the ABC network. He also starred in his twelfth movie, Mickey, featuring a screenplay by John Grisham that same year. In October 2001, he again released two albums: Songs I Heard, featuring big band re-workings of children's show themes, and 30, featuring Connick on piano with guest appearances by several other musical artists. Songs I Heard won Connick another Grammy for best traditional pop album and he toured performing songs from the album, holding matinees at which each parent had to be accompanied by a child.
In 2002, he received a U.S. Patent 6,348,648 for a "system and method for coordinating music display among players in an orchestra." Connick appeared as Grace Adler's boyfriend (and later husband) Leo Markus on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace from 2002 to 2006.
2003-05: Connick on Piano and Only You:
In July 2003, Connick released his first instrumental album in fifteen years, Other Hours Connick on Piano Volume 1. It was released on Branford Marsalis's new label Marsalis Music and led to a short tour of nightclubs and small theaters. Connick appeared in the film Basic. In October 2003, he released his second Christmas album, Harry for the Holidays, which went gold and reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. He also had a television special on NBC featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Marc Anthony and Kim Burrell. Only You, his seventeenth album for Columbia Records, was released in February 2004. A collection of 1950s and 1960s ballads, Only You, went Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic and was certified gold in the United States in March 2004. The Only You tour with big band went on in America, Australia and a short trip to Asia. Harry for the Holidays was certified platinum in November 2004. A music DVD Harry Connick Jr. -- "Only You" in Concert was released in March 2004, after it had first aired as a Great Performances special on PBS. The special won him an Emmy for Outstanding Music Direction. The DVD received a Gold & Platinum Music Video -- Long Form awards from the RIAA in November 2005.
An animated holiday special, The Happy Elf, aired on NBC in December 2005, with Connick as the composer, the narrator, and one of the executive producers. Shortly after, it was released on DVD. The holiday special was based on his original song The Happy Elf, from his 2003 album Harry for the Holidays. Another album from Marsalis Music was recorded in 2005, Occasion : Connick on Piano, Volume 2, a duo album with Harry Connick, Jr. on piano together with Branford Marsalis on saxophone. A music DVD, A Duo Occasion, was filmed at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival 2005 in Canada, and released in November 2005.
He appeared in another episode of NBC sitcom Will & Grace in November 2005, and appeared in an additional three episodes in 2006.
2006-08: The Pajama Game, Bug and P.S. I Love You:
Bug, a film directed by William Friedkin, is a psychological thriller filmed in 2005, starring Connick, Ashley Judd, and Michael Shannon. The film was released in 2007. He starred in the Broadway revival of The Pajama Game, produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, along with Michael McKean and Kelli O'Hara, at the American Airlines Theatre in 2006. It ran from February 23 to June 17, 2006, including five benefit performances running from June 13 to June 17. The Pajama Game cast recording was nominated for a Grammy, after being released as part of Connick's double disc album Harry on Broadway, Act I.
He hosted The Weather Channel's mini series 100 Biggest Weather Moments which aired in 2007. He was part of the documentary Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, released in November 2007. He sat in on piano on Bob French's 2007 album Marsalis Music Honors Series: Bob French. He appeared in the film P.S. I Love You, released in December 2007. A third album in the Connick on Piano series, Chanson du Vieux Carré was released in 2007, and Connick received two Grammy nominations for the track "Ash Wednesday", for the Grammy awards in 2008. Chanson du Vieux Carré was released simultaneously with the album Oh, My NOLA. Connick toured North America and Europe in 2007, and toured Asia and Australia in 2008, as part of his My New Orleans Tour. Connick did the arrangements for, wrote a couple of songs, and sang a duet on Kelli O'Hara's album that was released in May 2008. He was also the featured singer at the Concert of Hope immediately preceding Pope Benedict XVI's Mass at Yankee Stadium in April 2008. He had the starring role of Dr. Dennis Slamon in the 2008 Lifetime TV film Living Proof. His third Christmas album, What a Night!, was released in November 2008.
2009-present: New in Town, Your Songs:
The film New in Town starring Connick and Renée Zellweger, began filming in January 2008, and was released in January 2009. Connick's album Your Songs was released on CD, September 22, 2009. In contrast to Connick's previous albums, this album is a collaboration with a record company producer, the multiple Grammy Award winning music executive Clive Davis.
Connick is starring in the Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which opened at the St. James Theatre in November 2011 in previews.
Connick appeared on the May 4, 2010, episode of American Idol where he acted as a mentor for the top 5 finalists. He appeared again on the May 5 episode of the talent show where he performed "And I Love Her".
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
On January 6, 2012, NBC president Robert Greenblatt announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that Harry Connick, Jr. had been cast in a four-episode arc of NBC's long-running legal drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as new Executive ADA, David Haden, a dedicated, straight-shooting prosecutor who is assigned a case with Detective Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Although Benson is at first wary of Haden, they are both surprised to find they work well together. As the case develops, so does their relationship. Connick's first episode was "Official Story", which aired January 18, 2012 on NBC. "This is a home run on so many levels," said Mariska. "The show is very fortunate to have Harry's extraordinary talent, and I'm lucky because I get to work with my friend. I think Olivia couldn't have asked for a better companion to take her through a new stage in her life and career."
"What I do like about him is he seems to be a guy who's interested in the truth," Connick Jr. says of Haden. "He seems to be a good guy who's genuinely interested in upholding the law ... and a guy who's looking to do the right thing."
"My favorite part was definitely Connick Jr. as David Haden. I've been a fan of his adorable screen presence since he was on Will & Grace, and he didn't disappoint as a new love interest for Olivia."
--Teresa L., of TV Fanatic.
Reviews for Connick and his first SVU episode were fairly positive, TV Guide "cheered" Harry Connick Jr. for "getting in tune" with Law & Order: SVU. TV Guide's Bruce Fretts had to say, "The crooner's Broadway show On a Clear Day may be closing soon, but he's making beautiful music with Mariska Hargitay as the new executive ADA. Connick Jr. brought a light, quirky tone to the often-dark drama as his character, David Haden, helped Det. Olivia Benson investigate a brutal assault covered up by a private defense contractor." Teresa L. of TV Fanatic notes, "Haden was confident, self-deprecatingly funny, and (so far) sincere in his desire to do the right thing. Benson was initially suspicious of him (like with all new people!), but she quickly warmed up to him when she saw him stand up to the U.S. Attorney's office for failing to bring charges against Cori's rapists." She also says, "I thought the two had a lot of chemistry. Benson obviously thought the same since she invited him over for a "nightcap."" Users on IMDb ranked the episode an 8.9/10 and users on TV.com ranked the episode an 8.5/10, which are fairly good.
Connick, Jr. was also thrilled to learn he'd be playing an executive assistant district attorney on Law & Order: SVU, because the role gives him the chance to act like his father, who was district attorney of New Orleans, LA for 30 years. "This is my first gig that required me to know details about his job. I asked him a lot of questions." Connick said to Contact Music. Connick, Jr. also hopes David Haden doesn't cheat on Olivia Benson, he told TV Guide magazine, "I don't want to get caught cheating. I've got to walk down the street... I'd rather die than cheat on Benson." Connick, Jr. admited fans of sitcom Will & Grace gave him a hard time when his character on that show cheated on Debra Messing's character, Grace Adler.
SVU show runner/executive producer Warren Leight has said to TV Guide; it's possible Connick, Jr. will be with the show after his inital four-episode arc. "Originally Connick was booked for four episodes, but I'm under no obligation to kill him off at the end of those four. He seems to be having a good time. They seem to be working pretty well together, but at some point drama must rear its head. One thing I will say is we will not reveal him to be a serial killer. And I have no intention of tragically blowing him up in a car or anything like that." Between seasons 8 and 12 (under former show runner/executive producer Neal Baer), the show has had characters change as sort of a dramatic plot twist.
When Leight was asked about obstacles in Daivd Haden's and Detective Benson's relationship, which will also be a sexual relationship; "They may disagree on a case. She may question his commitment because she's such a crusader. If you work as a No. 2 in a New York City D.A.'s office, you have to have political skill. So I could see her mistaking his political skill for a lack of fervor. And clearly, they're not supposed to be working on the same cases. That'll get a case thrown out of court. The ethical boundary is a huge, huge issue. But then also there's this question of boundaries in a relationship. If both of you do the same kind of stuff, and you're always talking shop -- is that healthy for a relationship?"
Touring Big Band members:
The following musicians have toured as the Harry Connick, Jr., Big Band since its inception in 1990:
Piano and vocals - Harry Connick, Jr.,
Drums - Shannon Powell, Duffy Jackson, Arthur Latin II, (Winard Harper, Jeff "Tain" Watts - subs),
Bass - Ben Wolfe, Neal Caine,
Lead trumpet - Roger Ingram, (Dave Stahl, Walter White, Walt Johnson - subs),
2nd trumpet - Dan Miller, Derrick Gardner, Bijon Watson, Sal Cracchiolo (Earl Gardner, Greg Gisbert, Darryl Shaw - subs),
3rd trumpet - Jeremy Davenport, Joe Magnarelli, Mark Braud,
4th trumpet - Leroy Jones, Mark Braud,
Lead alto saxophone - Brad Leali, Mike Smith, Jon Gordon, Ned Goold, Geoff Burke,
2nd alto saxophone - Mark Sterbank, Will Campbell, Ned Goold,
1st tenor saxophone - Jerry Weldon, (Geoff Burke - sub),
2nd tenor saxophone - Jimmy Greene, Ned Goold,
Baritone saxophone - Dave Schumacher (Howard Johnson - sub),
Clarinet - Louis Ford,
Lead trombone - Mark Mullins, John Allred, Jeff Bush,
2nd trombone - Craig Klein, John Allred,
3rd trombone - Lucien Barbarin, Craig Klein,
Bass trombone - Joe Barati,
Vocals, trombone, percussion - Lucien Barbarin,
Connick and New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina
Connick, a New Orleans native, is a founder of the Krewe of Orpheus, a music-based New Orleans krewe, taking its name from Orpheus of classical mythology. The Krewe of Orpheus parades on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street in New Orleans on Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) -- the day before Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
On September 2, 2005, Harry Connick, Jr., helped to organize, and appeared in, the NBC-sponsored live telethon concert, A Concert for Hurricane Relief, for relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He spent several days touring the city to draw attention to the plight of citizens stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and other places. At the concert he paired with host Matt Lauer, and entertainers including Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kanye West, Mike Myers, and John Goodman.
On September 6, 2005, Connick was made honorary chair of Habitat for Humanity's Operation Home Delivery, a long-term rebuilding plan for families victimized by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.
Connick's album Oh, My NOLA, and Chanson du Vieux Carré were released in 2007, with a following tour called the My New Orleans Tour.
Main article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musicians%27_Village
Connick and Branford Marsalis devised an initiative to help restore New Orleans's musical heritage. Habitat for Humanity and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, working with Connick and Branford Marsalis announced December 6, 2005, plans for a Musicians' Village in New Orleans. The Musicians' Village includes Habitat-constructed homes, with an Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, as the area's centerpiece. The Habitat-built homes provide musicians, and anyone else who qualifies, the opportunity to buy decent, affordable housing.
On April 16, 1994, Connick Jr. married former Victoria's Secret model, Jill Goodacre, originally from Texas, at the St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. Jill is the daughter of sculptor Glenna Goodacre, originally from Lubbock and now Santa Fe, New Mexico. The song "Jill", on the album Blue Light, Red Light (1991) is about her. They have three daughters: Georgia Tatom (born April 17, 1995), Sarah Kate (September 12, 1997), and Charlotte (born June 26, 2002). The family currently resides in New Canaan, Connecticut, and New York City. Connick is a practicing Roman Catholic.
In December of 1992 he was charged with bringing a gun to the security checkpoint in an airport. Connick was arrested by the Port Authority Police in 1992 and charged with having a 9mm pistol in his possession at JFK International Airport. After spending a day in jail, he agreed to make a public-service television commercial warning against breaking gun laws. The court agreed to drop all charges if Connick stayed out of trouble for six months.