“hard to sit in silence, to watch one’s youth wash away.”
–Harry Connick Jr.Joseph Harry Fowler Connick Jr. was born on this day in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA in 1967. He is 45 years old.
Connick’s mother, Anita, was a lawer and judge, she rose through the ranks to become a Louisiana Supreme Court justice. Harry’s first concert was at a campaign event when his father, Joseph, was running for district attorney. Harry was 5 and had been taking piano lessons for two years, The little boy sang the national anthem. (His dad won the election.) At 9 he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 Opus 37 with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and joined the musician’s union. He took lessons at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts from Ellis Marsalis and James Booker.
After high school Connick moved to New York City. He played at various jazz clubs, and caught the attention of singer Tony Bennet (who claimed the youngster could be the next Sinatra) and Columbia Record exec George Butler (who signed Connick to the label.)His first, self titled, album was largely instrumental, but he added vocals to his second album, 20. Harry Connick, Jr. sings like a Delta summer evening — his voice is warm and boozy and smooth all at the same time. He pulls you in and dances you around a song. At 20 he was singing standards that belonged to a generation (or two generations) his senior, and he did it with style. To date Connick has put out 27 albums. From Jazz to Funk to Ballads to Big Band to the songs he loved from childhood he makes it sound easy… and has sold over 25 million recordings. Rob Reiner signed Connick for the soundtrack of When Harry Met Sallyin 1989. The soundtrack is lush with Big Band standards like “It Had to Be You,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “But Not for Me,” “Where or When” and (a personal favorite) “I Could Write A Book,” and went to #1 on the Jazz Charts while reaching double-platinum. Connick won a Grammy for his effort.
The film’s success led to Harry’s first multi-platinum album, an accomplishment made even more impressive by the fact that it was also Harry’s first Big Band recording. [Harry Connick, Jr official web page]
Reiner agreed with Bennet’s assertion that Connick had a certain Sinatra-esque style, and Connick followed up his success scoring Harry Met Sally by going ON camera in the WWII film Memphis Belle. Next he played Eddie in Jodie Foster’s Little Man Tate.
Harry changed tunes for his next film role, portraying a homicidal sociopath in 1995’s Copycat. The critics took notice, with the New York Times dubbing him, “…scarily effective,” and the Tampa Tribune naming him “most memorable” in a cast that included Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. [Harry Connick, Jr official web page]
He played a fighter pilot / side kick in Independence Day where the actors, writers and directors were too busy blowing things up and saving the world to bother with science, logic or character development. [Too harsh?] He was the romantic good guy to Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats. In 2001 he co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in Life Without Dick. He was in the horror movie BUG with Ashley Judd. He narrator The Happy Elf (which was based on a song he wrote for his Harry for the Holidays 2003 album.) and My Dog Skip and he gave his voice to the animated role of Dean McCoppin in The Iron Giant. He co-starred with Renee Zellweger in the 2009 rom-com New In Town. And his character heads a team of marine veteranarians who help an injured bottlenosed dolphin in Dolphin Tale. (Ashley Judd co-stars in Dolphin Tale as well, but sans bugs.)
On the small screen he worked with Glen Close in the ABC special South Pacific, and had a recurring role as Grace’s husband Leo Markus on Will and Grace. He was the lead in bio-pic Living Proof about Dr. Dennis Slamon, the man who developed the breast cancer drug Herceptin. He was the host for the Weather Channel’s 2007 documentary 100 Biggest Weather Moments (The Weather Channel donated $75,000 to Musician’s Village, a project Connick and Branford Marsalis devollped with Habitat for Humanity to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. His latest television role is a recurring spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as A.D.A. David Haden.He has appeared in several Broadway shows including the 2006 revival of The Pajama Game, and the 2011 revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, as well as two special concert tours, An Evening with Harry Connick Jr. and His Orchestra in 1990 and Harry Connick Jr.: In Concert on Broadway in 2010. He also composed the music and lyrics for Thou Shalt Not.
After Hurricane Katrina devisated New Orleans and the Gulf region Connick joined forces with other musicians and civic leaders to help rebuild the city. Portions of the royalties from Oh, My NOLA and Chanson duVieux Carre along with the concert tours promoting the albums went to Musician’s Villiage.