Harry Connick, Jr. (born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr.; September 11, 1967) is an American singer, actor, composer, and pianist.
Connick has sold over 25 million albums worldwide. He is ranked among the top 60 best-selling male artists in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America, with 16 million certified albums.
He has seven top 20 U.S. albums, and ten No. 1 U.S. jazz albums, earning more number one albums than any other artist in the US jazz chart history. He has won three Grammy awards, and an Emmy Award.
Harry Connick, Jr. was born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr., in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Harry Connick, Sr., who was the district attorney of Orleans Parish from 1977-2003, and Anita (née Livingston), a judge, lawyer, and former Louisiana Supreme Court justice. His parents also owned a record store. Connick, Jr.'s father is Irish American, and Connick, Jr.'s mother, who died in 1981, was Jewish. Connick, Jr. has a sister, Suzanna. He was raised in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Connick's musical talents soon came to the fore when he learned the keyboards at the age of three, played publicly at age six and recorded with a local jazz band at ten. At age nine he performed the Piano Concerto No. 3 Opus 37 of Beethoven with the then New Orleans Symphony Orchestra (now the Louisiana Philharmonic). At the age of nine, in January 1977, he got to play a duet with Eubie Blake at the Royal Orleans Explanade 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 and Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. After an unsuccessful attempt to study jazz academically, and having given recitals in the classical and jazz piano programs at Loyola University, Connick moved to New York City to study at Hunter College and the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, where a Columbia Records executive 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 growing reputation, 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. In October 1991, he starred in Little Man Tate, directed by Jodie Foster, playing the friend of a child prodigy who goes to college.
Connick was arrested in 1992 and charged with having a 9 mm 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.
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. 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 St. 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.
2000-2002: 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 US 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.
2003-2005: 'Connick on Piano', 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 with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. 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 additional three episodes in 2006.