Whether he’s singing, acting, or hosting a show; Harry Connick Jr. has inspired Americans of all ages for over three decades. And although he may be known for his talented voice and charming personality, there’s a side of Harry many haven’t seen.
Harry Connick Jr. believes in God. And if you meet him in person, you’ll quickly learn that he’s unashamed to tell you so.
But Connick doesn’t claim to be a perfect Christian. In fact, he admits that many of his life’s deepest struggles are what caused him to turn to his faith.
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 11, 1967.
Harry was the second child born to Anita Frances and Joseph Harry Fowler Connick Jr. Harry’s parents were both music lovers who put themselves through law school by running a record store in New Orleans, where Connick’s late mother eventually became a judge.
Harry’s elder sister, Suzanna, grew up to be a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. But Harry started down a much different path and it didn’t take long for his God-given talents to reveal themselves.
By the age of three, young Harry was confidently playing the keyboard. And at five years old, Harry had his first public performance—a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the campaign headquarters of his father, who was running for district attorney.
By the ripe age of 9, Connick recorded his first few albums at home and performed the Piano Concerto No. 3 Opus 37 of Beethoven with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra– a performance many dream of but rarely achieve.
Young Harry’s raspy voice and infectious personality charmed Americans of all ages, and before long, Connick had earned the respect of established musicians.
Harry was undoubtedly on the fast track to stardom, but just after celebrating his tenth birthday, the Connick family received devastating news.
Harry’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And just three years later, she lost the battle — while Harry was singing at a local show. Promptly after his performance, his aunt delivered the horrifying news.
Connick shared, “It was extremely traumatic as you can imagine. And I think had it not been for my father and his incredible gifts as a father and unwavering support of me and my sister and my extended family’s support, I’m not so sure I could have gotten through it. It was unquestionably the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me before or since. You just take what you’re given and accept it with grace and try to move on with your life.”
The devastating loss crushed the young musician, and Harry struggled to pick up the pieces.
Connick shared, “I can tell you that for a long time it was hard for me to enjoy things because I had this underlying feeling that it was going to end. I think that’s a direct relationship to my world – [it] was incredible, I had my mother, and then all of a sudden she wasn’t there anymore.”
And although Connick reveals that time has helped heal the pain, he still continues to feel the loss to this day.
Connick shared, “I still miss my mother. I had 13 years with her – they were profoundly influential years on me and that’s what my life is. Everybody has ups and downs and that was the worst down for me.”
After the devastating loss, the grieving young man pursued music more than ever before. He was all in; determined to make his mother proud.
After graduating from high school, Connick spent a semester at Loyola University in New Orleans before moving to New York. There, the struggling musician took a few college courses and immersed himself in the music scene.
Harry revealed, “I moved to New York at 18 and lived at the 92nd Street Y. I was a ticket collector in the box office for two weeks — my only real job!”
For three years, Harry booked gigs wherever he could find them. And in 1989, Connick Jr. finally got his big break: a month-long engagement at the Algonquin Hotel.
The show received rave reviews and plenty of media coverage, especially after legendary singer Tony Bennett saw a performance and proclaimed, “Connick could be the next Frank Sinatra.”
The 22-year-old had come a long way from New Orleans, and it wasn’t long before he was approached by director Rob Reiner. Young Connick agreed to record a soundtrack for the 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. The movie was a huge hit and brought double-platinum album sales for Connick’s soundtrack, as well as Harry’s first Grammy Award.
By 1990, Connick had three albums on Billboard’s pop chart. And it wasn’t long before Connick had developed his persona; a modern-day heartthrob with a deep voice, thick drawl, and Southern manners (he doesn’t smoke or drink). The talented young man released successful album after album — a whopping total of 31 albums to date.
But as if being a successful singer and musician wasn’t enough, Connick was also granted the gift of acting. His first role was as a hard-gambling airman in the World War II bomber drama Memphis Belle (1990).
Connick went on to appear in several successful movies, Copycat (1995), Independence Day (1996), and Hope Floats (1998). In 2002, Connick took on a recurring role as the boyfriend and later husband of character Grace Adler in the smash sitcom Will & Grace.
To date, Harry Connick Jr. has sold more than 28 records worldwide and released more number-one albums than any other artist in US jazz chart history. With a successful music career, acting portfolio, and talkshow, one might assume that Harry Connick Jr. indeed has it all.
But despite his great and growing success, Connick considers his fame and fortune all worthless compared to his faith and family.
The proud husband and father has been with his wife, Jill Goodacre for almost 27 years– which is practically a lifetime in Hollywood years.
In his bachelor years, Harry was never much of the dating type, and it didn’t take long after he met Jill to realize that the flawless former model was his wife.
Harry recalled the day he met his wife, “I never dated much. I dated one girl before my wife, and that was it. I was staying in L.A. Jill walked past me at the hotel pool, and I introduced myself. She had a really strong handshake. If that had been it between us, just that moment, I would’ve thought about it for the rest of my life. What’s really funny is that [Jill] called her mom that night and said, ‘I met the guy I’m going to marry.’ Of course she didn’t let me know.”
Harry invited Jill to a swanky new restaraunt in town, but he didn’t kiss her because, as Jill recalls, he was “a true gentleman.” They said goodbye after the date with a handshake, and from that moment onward, the lovebirds were inseparable — and they’ve remained that way ever since!
Unlike most men in Hollywood, Harry takes his marriage vows very seriously. Harry shared, “Growing up, marriage was a serious thing in my house. I didn’t want to get married and then get divorced; that happens a lot in my business. I love my wife. Without her I wouldn’t be much of anything. She rocks my world. We’ve been together 27 years.”
Two years after meeting by the pool at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles, Harry popped the question. The match-made-in-heaven tied the knot on April 16, 1994.
“I married my best friend,” Harry told YourTango last year, “And listen! Ultimately I’ve been very fortunate – I understand that that doesn’t happen for everybody. I get it and I pray for those people because that’s a tragic thing to have to endure for anyone. But I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend, a woman that I love very much. I like the feeling of developing a relationship with this woman that continues to evolve and grow. I married the girl of my dreams.”
The Connicks are undoubtedly a power couple, but you won’t find them in the tabloids. On the contrary, they are frequently spotted on dates and Harry makes it a point to honor and “impress” Jill every day.
Together, Harry and Jill have three beautiful daughters; Georgia, 20, Kate, 19, and Charlotte, 14.
Last week, Harry’s daughters surprised him on his show to celebrate how far he’s come, and I couldn’t help but tear up as I watched his three little girls brag on their papa.
Whether you know Harry Connick Jr. or not, one thing can be said with absolute certainty: Connick is an unashamed family man, and that is one attribute our world could use more of.
In addition to being outspoken about his love for his family, Harry is also an unashamed believer.
When asked what his prayer life looks like, Connick replied, “I pray in different ways. Sometimes it’s a real prayer, where you get down on your knees and you pray. But most of the time I find myself just sort of praying throughout the day. And it gives me a great deal of comfort.”
Connick doesn’t hide his faith. Instead, the Christian actively looks for ways to incorporate his faith. During his Christmas show, Harry said, “I just want to say that as a Catholic, and a Christian, this is the time of year that we celebrate Christ.” And Connick is determined to honor God, despite the wild and reckless world of entertainment that he lives in.
Connick told CBN, “I think for me it’s about my conscience. I have to credit my mother, my father, and some of my extended family, for instilling in me the values that I hold today. Here’s the basic answer: If I do something on my show or if I read a script, I always think what would my dad think about this? What would my mom think about this? What would my grandma, my aunt Jessie, think about this? And that’s a pretty good barometer. My way of doing it is by example. Let me act like I would like to see things out there. Let me try to behave in a manner that I would want my children or somebody else’s children to see. Does that mean it’s uptight or goody goody or prudish? Call it whatever you want. I call it family entertainment.”
When asked if he is content in life, Connick answered , “I feel like I’ve been given far more than I deserve. I feel compelled to try to give as much of what I’ve been given back… When I look out and I see the people in the audience. I see men, I see women, old, young, black, white, gay, straight, I see everybody. That’s when I find a moment to pray and say ‘I don’t know why You picked me to give these people a respite from their day for an hour. But I take it really seriously,’” Harry continues. “I love to entertain these people. Because we’re all the same. You know, you’ve struggled. I’ve struggled. We’re all trying to make it. We’re all just trying to make it. And the fact that, that’s why I don’t get real heavy on the show. I just want to make people happy for an hour.”
Today, Harry’s life boasts of what God can do when one man is willing to hold fast to his character, work hard, honor his wife, lead his family, and make a difference. And there’s no doubt that Harry Connick Jr. has inspired Americans of all ages.
“If you work hard and pay attention to the smallest details of your work, your relationships, your faith; you’ll find that over time you will have created a lot of great things — things of worth, things of substance and quality.” – Harry Connick Jr.
While listening to Harry’s inspiring story, I just couldn’t help but think of Proverbs 16:9 and 1 Peter 5:5-7, which read,
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
Harry’s steadfast character and undeniable love for his family sets him apart, while his faith and trust in the Lord is indeed a beautiful sight to behold. Thank you Harry Connick Jr., for your unashamed faith and unwavering principles. America needs more men in Hollywood like Harry Connick Jr., please share if you agree!