Harry Connick, Jr.
BORN: September 11, 1967, New Orleans, LA
With very few exceptions, the career of Harry Connick, Jr. can be divided
in half -- his first two albums encompassed straightahead New Orleans jazz
and stride piano while his later career (which paralleled his rising celebrity
status) alternated between more contemporary New Orleans music and pop vocals
with a debt to Frank Sinatra. Born in New Orleans on September 11, 1967,
Connick grew up the son of two lawyers who owned a record store. After beginning
on keyboards at the age of three, he first performed publicly at six, and
recorded with a local jazz band at ten. Connick attended the New Orleans
Center for the Creative Arts and studied with Ellis Marsalis and James Booker.
A move to New York to study at Hunter College and the Manhattan School of
Music gave him the opportunity to look up a Columbia Records executive who
had asked to see him, and Connick's self-titled album debut -- a set of mostly
unaccompanied standards -- appeared in 1987. Jazz critics praised Connick's
maturity and engaging style as well as his extended stays at New York hotspots
during the year. His second album, named for his age in 1988, was the first
to feature him on vocals.
Already well-known within jazz circles, Harry Connick, Jr. entered the American
consciousness with the soundtrack to 1989's popular film When Harry Met Sally.
Director Rob Reiner had asked Connick to compose a soundtrack, and he recorded
several warm standards ("It Had to Be You," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off,"
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore") with a big-band backing. A world tour followed,
and When Harry Met Sally eventually reached double-platinum status. With
Connick a major celebrity, he diverged into an acting career, playing a tail
gunner in 1990's Memphis Belle. That same year, he released two albums simultaneously:
one, We Are in Love, was another vocal outing with similar standards as had
appeared on When Harry Met Sally, while Lofty's Roach Souffle was all-instrumental.
(Of course, the vocal album performed much better in the pop charts, hitting
double-platinum, while the instrumentals worked better with jazz audiences.)
Connick toured again, this time with a big band, and recorded the group on
1991's Blue Light, Red Light. Though his celebrity decreased slightly during
the mid-'90s, Connick's albums continued to reach platinum status, including
1992's 25, a 1993 Christmas album, and 1994's She. Connick continued his
acting work with a starring role in 1995's Copycat (where he played a serial
killer) and married actress Jill Goodacre. In 1996, he had a brief role in
the year's biggest blockbuster, Independence Day, but his album Star Turtle
failed to connect with pop audiences. Come by Me, a return to big band sounds,
followed in 1999. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide
Harry Connick Jr. is, first and foremost, known for his abilities behind
a piano and for his smooth, baritone vocals. Connick is a prodigious performer,
having released some 15 albums by the age of 30. He was approached by Rob
Reiner to put together some music for the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally.
He brought together an orchestra and covered many popular big-band era songs.
An album was put together and prompted a whirlwind tour that helped the album
sell amazingly well. Because of this success and Connick's Aw Shucks personality,
film appearances were inevitable. His first was in 1990's Memphis Belle and
he has consistantly worked in film since then, most notably as Will Smith's
wisecracking friend in Independence Day, and in an unexpected turn as the
mimicking, murdurous psychopath in Copycat (1995). The late '90s found Connick
in larger roles that were a testament to his versatility, including Hope
Floats (1998) and Wayward Son (1999). In 2000, Connick brought in the new
millennium with a role in My Dog Skip. In 1994, Connick married model Jill
Goodacre and together they have two daughters. ~ Nathaniel Bryant, All Movie