Connick comes to Carmel
Commentary by Jay Harvey
Born in New Orleans and receptive to its musical traditions from childhood, Harry Connick Jr. has built a career that goes far beyond the Crescent City.
He’s had mass-media exposure as a judge on “American Idol” since January of last year. But he was well known for decades before that, his fame especially boosted by his soundtrack recording for “When Harry Met Sally,” a 1989 romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Signed to Columbia records at 18, he’s now 47 and still based as musician and family man in New Orleans. From there he has lent conspicuous support to rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while maintaining a broad-based international career that encompasses acting on TV and in movies, in addition to a few writing and performing credits on Broadway, including a revival of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
His songwriting is often featured on tour, and past Indianapolis appearances have included both big-band and small-group gigs. Stylistically, he’s comfortable in both jazz and pop-oriented contexts, playing piano and singing.
Connick’s family is prominent in his native city, and his success in music is rooted in his absorption of its music. As a pre-teen, he distinguished himself in both classical music and jazz.
His jazz development was guided by Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of jazz’s most notable family, and James Booker, a revered exponent of the New Orleans piano style who died in 1983. “There’s nobody that could even remotely come close to his piano-playing ability. It can’t be done,” Connick once told an NPR interviewer. “I’ve played Chopin etudes, I’ve done the whole thing, but there is nothing harder than James.”
He performs at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 6 at The Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets, visit thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.