Harry Connick Jr. is one of the most well-known names in show business. Over the last thirty years, he's appeared everywhere from Broadway to reality TV, proving himself to be a versatile and immensely talented singer, songwriter, pianist, and actor.
Now, the Grammy Award-winning New Orleans native serves as the executive producer and host of "Harry", a lively daytime talk show chock-full of live music, comedy, human interest stories, and celebrity interviews.
But what really sets "Harry" apart from other TV talk shows is Connick's dedication to uplifting and encouraging his audience; in fact, he describes his show as a "party".
"I felt like there was a great void in daytime television for a show like this," Connick told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "There's no live music on daytime TV, and the type of atmosphere we have is unique - the spontaneity of it, the constant celebration of women and things like that. I just felt that there needed to be a show on daytime that represented what I feel are the values that most of us share, which concentrate on things like family, community, and faith. There's a lot of people who were underserved in that department on TV."
Since its September premiere, "Harry" has featured a number of celebrity guests, including Tim Tebow, Ricky Gervais, and Ali Larter, while also focusing heavily on everyday heroes, like the New Jersey elementary-school teacher who went viral with her encouraging messages to students.
Connick told GH that while he avoids reading social media comments - "they have a tendency to get in your head, whether it's good or bad" - he's been blown away by the positive response to the show.
"I thought it was possible to do a show that can be current and relevant and contemporary and edgy and still be appropriate for everybody to watch," he said. "When I go out there every day to do the show and meet people in the audience, they hold my hand, and I can see it in their eyes, almost like there's a gratitude there, like they're thanking me for doing the show. It's an amazing and humbling feeling. It's a recognition of the immense responsibility that goes along with it."
The former "American Idol" host is a man of faith - it's something he unashamedly talks about - who is dedicated to his family. He referred to his 27-year marriage to model Jill Goodacre as his "greatest accomplishment" and said his three daughters, Georgia, 20, Kate, 19, and Charlotte, 14, "made me realize why I'm here."
"It's so funny, a lot of artists that I know that are not married - I'm not judging, they're all great people - but a lot of them have a fear of commitment because they feel that somehow a commitment would hamper their ability to create, it's almost like it would tie them down," he said.
"I feel just the opposite. I feel I am so confident in where my home is emotionally that it allows me to be more free as an artist. I can can go way out to the stratosphere with whatever I do artistically because I know how to get home. That provides the backdrop for all of the decisions I make. It's affected me immensely, it's allowed me to learn and grow."
At a time when America seems particularly divided, Connick hopes "Harry" inspires and uplifts viewers and reminds them that, at the end of the day, they're not that different from one another.
"One thing I like to talk about on my show is, I think our country is filled with really good people," he said. "No matter what you believe politically or what your religion is, I think most of us share the same basic values. We want to make it, we want to provide a home and love for our children, and we respect our elders - these are basic values that I grew up with, and most of us did."
He added, "This is a tough time, I think we all agree that this is a strange time in our country, and if all I can do is give people a break and make them smile and feel a little bit better, I could use all the prayers I could get."
"Harry" airs primarily on local Fox affiliate stations nationwide.