Harry Connick Jr. Biography

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Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, 11 September 1967, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. As a pianist and singer, Connick essays a sound that has been around for sometime, often being favourably compared to Frank Sinatra. Connick’s studied influences take in many from the late 40s and 50s, encompassing bebop, ‘cocktail’ jazz and swing. Despite the critical acclaim afforded to his first two albums, it was not until he sung a group of standard songs on the soundtrack of the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally, that Connick came to national prominence. His work on the film earned him the Grammy Award for Male Jazz Vocal, and his clean cut, chisel-jawed good looks, plus a penchant for sharp suits, made him a favourite with the ladies. He won another Grammy in 1990 for We Are In Love. Supported by Shannon Powell (drums) and Ben Wolfe (bass), Connick’s Trio has earned sufficient plaudits from their jazz peers, endorsed by Blue Light, Red Light elevation to number 1 on the Billboard jazz chart. In 1990, he extended himself further when he played the role of a crewmember of a US B17 bomber aircraft in the World War II movie, Memphis Belle, and a year later co-starred with Jodie Foster in Little Man Tate.

In 1992, Connick was arrested, and charged with having a 9mm pistol in his possession while passing through Kennedy Airport, New York. He spent a night in jail before agreeing to make a public service television commercial warning against breaking gun laws, in exchange for a promise to drop the charges if he stayed out of trouble for six months. After giving a splendid, ‘old fashioned’ rendering of the Oscar-nominated ‘A Wink And A Smile’ in the 1993 movie Sleepless In Seattle, Connick’s 1994 album She, and his Funk Tour of the UK in the same year, came as somewhat of a surprise. It signalled a departure from the ‘smooth crooning’ and a move to down-home New Orleans funk - or as one of the many disillusioned fans who left before the end of each performance put it: ‘We expected Frank Sinatra but we got Motörhead instead.’

In 1998 Connick made a credible leading man alongside Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats. In autumn 2001, he released a solo piano album and a disc of Hollywood show tunes recorded with his big band and orchestra, in addition to providing the music to the Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not. During 2003/4, the prolific artist recorded a piano performance for Marsalis Music (Other Hours), a Christmas disc (Harry For The Holidays), and an orchestrated vocal collection of classic 50s-era hits (Only You). He also landed a prominent role as Dr. Leo Markus, the duplicitous husband on the popular NBC situation comedy Will & Grace. Connick continues to balance his music and acting careers.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.