Harry Connick Jr.
Early HistoryHarry Connick Jr. was born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 11, 1967. His parents were both lawyers who also owned a record store. His musical talents soon came to the fore learning the keyboards at the age of three and playing publicly at six and recorded with a local jazz band at 10. His musical talents were developed at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and under the tuition of Ellis Marsalis and James Booker.
Connick attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans. He moved to New York City to study at Hunter College and the Manhattan School of Music where a Columbia Records executive persuaded him to sign with that label. His first record Harry Connick Jr. a mainly instrumental album of standards. He soon acquired a reputation in jazz due to extended stays at high profile New York venues which his second album 20 featuring his vocals added to his reputation.
When Harry Met Sally - Chart and movie successDue to 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 US. 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 about a B-17 bomber crew in World War II in 1990. In that year, he commenced a two year world tour. Not content with that, he released two albums in July 1990 - a jazz trio album Lofty's Bug Souffle and another album of standards We Are In Love which also went double platinum. The 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 nominations, 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 Red Light, Blue Light on which he wrote and arranged the songs. In October 1991, he starred in Little Man Tate directed by Jodie Foster as the friend of a child prodigy who goes to college.
Harry Connick Jr. was arrested and charged with having a 9mm pistol at his possession at JFK International Airport in 1992. After spending a day in jail, he agreed to make a public service television commercial warning against breaking gun laws in return for promises to drop the charges if he stayed out of trouble for six months.
In November 1992, he released 25 a solo piano collection of standards which again went platinum and a re-release of 11. Harry Connick Jr 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 2003.
Flirtation with Funk - mid 1990'sIn 1994, Harry Connick Jr. decided to branch out releasing She an album of New Orleans funk which again went platinum. As well, 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 US to date. He took his funk music on a tour of the UK in 1994 which did not please all of his fans who were expecting a jazz crooner. One fan who walked out said ""We expected Frank Sinatra but we got Motörhead instead," although the music was more reminiscent of the Meters rather than Motorhead. He also took his funk music to the People's Republic of China in 1995 playing at the Shanghai Center Theatre which is televised live in China for what became known as the Shanghai Gumbo special.
Connick played a homicidal killer in his third film Copycat which also starred Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver in 1995. In 1996, he released his second funk album Star Turtle which does sell as well as previous albums although reaching number 38 on the charts. However, he appeared in the most successful movie of that year Independence Day (movie) with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.
Back to basics - return to jazz 1999 - currentFor his 1997 release To See You, he recorded original love songs touring the US 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 starred in Excess Baggage opposite Alicia Silverstone and Benicio del Toro in 1997.
In May 1998, he had his first leading role in a movie in 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 US, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition, he provided the voice of Dean McCoppin in the animated film the Iron Giant in that year.
Connick was involved in writing the soundtrack for a Susan Stoman'sBroadway musical Thou Shalt Not based on the novel Therese Raquin in 2000 and it premiered in 2001. It was nominated for a Tony Award. He was also the narrator of the film My Dog Skip released in that year.
In March 2001, he starred in a television production of South Pacific with Glenn Close televised on the American Broadcasting Company. He also starred in his twelth movie Mickey featuring a screenplay by John Grisham in that year. In October 2001, he again released two albums - Songs I Heard featuring big band reworkings of children's show themes and 30 featuring Connick on piano with guest appearances. Songs I Heard won another Grammy for best traditional pop album and he performed a tour of songs from the album with matinee performances where each parent had to be accompanied by a child.
Harry Connick Jr. started appearing as Grace Adler's boyfriend Leo Markus on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace in the 2002-03 season of the program. In July 2003, Harry Connick released his first instrumental album in fifteen years called Other Hours Connick on Piano Volume 1 which was released on Branford Marsalis' new label Marsalis Music and commenced a short tour of nightclubs in small theatres.
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 goes gold and reached #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. He also had a television special on the NBC Network 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 1950's and 1960's ballads, Only You went top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and was certified gold in the US in March 2004.