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Harry Connick, Jr., was born Joseph Harry Fowler Connick in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 11, 1967. His father, Harry Connick, Sr., was of Irish Catholic descent and the district attorney of New Orleans for 27 years; his New York-born Jewish mother was a Louisiana Supreme Court Justice. His parents also owned a record store. Connick's musical talents soon came to the fore when he learned the keyboards at the age of three, played 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 tutelage 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 for the label, Harry Connick Jr., was a mainly instrumental album of standards. He soon acquired a reputation in jazz due to extended stays at high-profile New York venues. His next album, 20, featured his vocals and added to this reputation.
Harry Connick, Jr.'s music encompasses jazz, some of it very much in the style of the crooners of the 1940s and early '50s, funk and blues. He married model Jill Goodacre in 1994. They have three daughters: Georgia Tatom (April 17, 1996), Sarah Kate (September 12, 1997), and Charlotte (June 26, 2002). He is a prime organizer and captain of the Krewe of Orpheus, a music-based krewe, taking its name from Orpheus of Classical mythology. The Krewe of Orpheus parades on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street in New Orleans on Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) - the day before Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
In 1994, Harry Connick, Jr., decided to branch out, releasing 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. He took his funk music on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1994, an effort that 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 Mot?rhead instead." The music was actually more reminiscent of the Meters rather than Mot?rhead. 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.
Connick played a homicidal killer in his third film, Copycat (1995), which starred Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. The next 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 that year, Independence Day, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.
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 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 United States, 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 Susan Stroman's Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not, based on ?mile Zola's novel Th?r?se Raquin, in 2000; 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, Harry Connick, Jr. 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 reworkings 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.
Harry Connick, Jr. appeared as Grace Adler's boyfriend (and later husband) Leo Markus on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace from 2002 to 2006. 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.
Harry Connick, Jr. 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, and had Harry Connick, Jr. 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 will appear in additional 3 episodes in 2006. Bug, a film directed by William Friedkin, is a psychological thriller filmed in 2005, starring Connick, Ashley Judd, and Michael Shannon. The film will be released in 2006.
Harry Connick, Jr. just finished starring in the Broadway revival of The Pajama Game, produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, along with Michael McKean and Kelli O'Hara, at the American Airlines Theatre. It opened February 23, 2006, and it ran until June 17, 2006.
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