Singing sensation Harry Connick, Jr., continues to sell millions of records and attract thousands of fans. It Is not only his music that has fans clamoring for more. His performances on TV, in movies and on the Broadway stage keep fans coming back for more. Now, Connick is sharing his success by giving back to the community where he grew up. VOA's Larry London recently chatted with the singer about his multifaceted career.
With 21 albums, three Grammy Awards and 15 films to his credit, Harry Connick, Jr. is a tireless artist. To produce this much artistry takes a lot of practice, however. Connick's training started when he was very young.
He explains, "I think I was maybe six before I started to get some basic lessons, by the time I was eight or nine years-old, I was full into it. I mean, I was doing recordings. I remember I played with the symphony when I was about nine. That's really kind of all I did. I didn't play sports. I wasn't the best student. It was just music all the time."
What better place to absorb the various styles of music than in New Orleans, Louisiana, Connick's hometown? Harry's recent album "Oh, My NOLA [NO-la]," is dedicated to the music of New Orleans. NOLA, N-O-L-A, is an abbreviation of New Orleans, Louisiana.
"It's kind a nickname that we call New Orleans sometimes. When I talk about New Orleans, I think about all the rich culture there and the heritage there with music, and food and art. It's just a place I'm very proud to be from," says Connick.
It was his love of New Orleans that prompted Harry to help those that were struck by one of nature's most ferocious storms. Connick says, "Well, I remember right after Hurricane Katrina, Branford Marsalis, who's a dear friend for many years, we would drive into Houston to go see the evacuees who were at the Astrodome (a stadium used to shelter Hurricane Katrina evacuees). So we came up with an idea of the Musicians' Village. And what we decided to do was build a bunch of houses to try to entice musicians who have been displaced to come back (to New Orleans). We made it open to everybody, but with a special focus on musicians to come back so they can start rebuilding their lives in New Orleans."
Harry has a minor role in the recently released movie, "P.S. I Love You." If he had to choose between acting and music, he would stay with what is most familiar. "Well, I think things revolving around music are probably my favorite things to do only because I've done them for so long, and you know, it's like the longer you do something, the more familiar you become with it, and the more challenging it becomes at the same time," he said. "So music has been a part of my life since I was a small kid where as I didn't start acting until I was about 19 or 20."
Whether it is performing jazz tunes or crooning to the big band sounds enjoyed by older audiences, Harry Connick, Jr. is universally celebrated as a man of abundant talent and a humanitarian spirit.