By Diane Howard, Ph.D.
Harry Connick, Jr. has a daytime talk show called “Harry.” It is a delightful, upbeat, fun daily talk and variety show that features musical numbers, interviews, comedy segments and more. Connick says he wants his show to feels like a party during the middle of the day. His band plays, he plays, and the show is unscripted. The program reflects who Harry is as a fine musician and as fun-loving, caring person. His show has a balance of interviews and segments with everyday heroes and heroines, as well as with notable guest stars.
Harry Connick is known for being a giving and caring man. Ryan Seacrest of American Idol describes Harry a loving, great father and husband. Harry is a Catholic whose faith shines through his life in all he does. Not only is he a famous jazz pianist, actor, Grammy and Emmy Winner, but he has facilitated many outstanding charitable projects. Further, he is loving, caring, and encouraging to those he meets.
As a judge for “American Idol” with Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, Connick when asked what advice he would give youth entering the entertainment field in regards to staying true to their faith and values, said, “It’s not something that you necessarily have to abandon in times of pressure or temptation. It’s easy to act with haste and impulsivity. It’s a little bit harder to take a moment in a particular situation and consider your own values…but I think ultimately that’s probably the way to go, to think about what’s important to you and apply that to the decision that you make in real time. If you’re presented with a situation or a crossroads that’s confusing, it’s always good if possible to kind of take a step back and say wait. What do I believe? What’s important to me? How will this affect other people? And then make a decision.”
Here’s my recent interview with Harry for Fruit in the Desert:
DH: Your upbeat, positive, fun show is delightful and refreshing. Why do you think such TV programming is critically needed today?
HC: There is so much grim news in the media today. I want to provide a respite for TV audiences with positive, uplifting, and inspiring entertainment.
DH: How is your show unique?
HC: I love to entertain people and to make them laugh. We each need to use our unique gifts to lift people up and to encourage them. I love what I do and love the people on my show.
DH: What is your philosophy behind the show?
HC: I want to show our audiences good values by example without preaching at them.
DH: What do you hope your show will accomplish?
HC: I hope it will bring assurance that there are a lot of good people in our world.
DH: How do you hope your show will affect audiences?
HC: I think people today are scared and divided. I want to provide a break from those feelings to celebrate faith, family, and community that we all hold in common as being important. I want to celebrate with the people on my show and in my audiences what is good.
DH: Do you think that a show like yours can positively impact our culture?
HC: We all can strive to impact at least one other person for good and if we affect more that is even better. We need to start by using what we know for good and then let that increase.
DH: How do you select the topics for your show?
HC: Our producers find a wide and diverse range of people, especially underserved and underrecognized, for our show. One special group of ladies our producer selected was a group of African American women who came to the studio in their sweat suits. They were professional women who serve their community.
DH: What is your criteria for selecting your guests?
HC: I like to celebrate what I call “leading ladies.” I have been around women in my family all my life and like to recognize special women.
DH: Can you give us an example of a “leading lady”?
HC: I had a thirteen-year-old girl on my show who dedicates her life to providing groceries for people in need. She is a “leading lady.”
DH: What are your parting words today?
HC: I want to provide quality entertainment for my audiences. I want to serve the underserved. I like to get close to my studio house audiences to encourage them and make them feel welcome. I want to serve those who are starved for something better.
DH: Your faith and family commitment shines through your life and work. Do you think faith and family commitment can positively affect an entertainer’s career and cultural impact?
HC: It affects my entertainment. I am a Catholic who keeps learning, growing, and practicing. I hope my sincere grappling and growing is inspiring to others.
Harry Connick, Jr. has demonstrated excellence in every aspect of his life. He has given outstanding performances live, as well as on small and large screens. He is an established musician, singer and composer, as well as a notable live performer and best-selling artist with millions of records sold around the world.
Not only is Harry an excellent musician and entertainer; but he is humble, real, and honest. His love and care for others is contagious, along with his cheerful and joyful spirit.
Not only has he performed on stage, TV, and in movies; but he performed at the 2015 papal mass of Pope Francis at Madison Square Gardens as well as at Pope Benedict XVI’s Yankee Stadium mass in 2008. He has also performed at major sporting events.
Harry has been charitable, especially in helping New Orleans rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He and friend Branford Marsalis developed the “Musicians’ Village,” a community in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. It provides homes for Katrina-displaced musicians. Its focal point, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, is a teaching facility for children, with a performance hall and recording studio for musicians. It is also a gathering place for the community. Harry’s contributions to the post-Katrina effort have been acknowledged by the following: Redbook Strength and Spirit Award, honorary degree from Tulane University, 2010 National Building Museum honor and the 2012 Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Written by Dr. Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies), dianehoward.com