Harry Connick Jr. loves entertaining people - and he's got the Grammys, Emmys, Tony nominations and more than 20 albums to prove it. Whether he's performing on stage, the big screen, or TV, Connick has established himself as one of the greatest music icons of today - and he's not going anywhere soon.
The New Orleans-born jazz singer/musician and former "American Idol" judge recently kicked off the second season of his talk show, Harry, which snagged five Daytime Emmy nominations including outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host for Connick.
Harry Season Two will feature comedic segments, audience participation, human interest stories, celebrity interviews and musical performances led by Connick. And, like Season One, it's full of positive, uplifting content that is safe for the whole family.
In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, Connick opened up about Harry Season Two, how his faith influences his career, and why he hopes his show unites and encourages "all of God's children." Harry airs on Fox 5 weekdays at 2 p.m.
Below is the exclusive interview with Harry Connick Jr.
GH: What I love about Harry is that it's something parents can have one - with the kids in the room - and not be embarrassed or have to reach for the remote button.
HC: Thank you. That's a nice compliment. That's the basic common denominator for what we're doing, is doing a show that people can watch together. You'd think you'd be more of that out there. We're proud to say that we like to keep it appropriate for the whole family.
GH: This season, you're once again spotlighting women who are empowering others and making a difference in their communities. Why is it important for you to celebrate women with your show?
HC: When I came up with the idea for the show itself, the first thing I wanted to do was celebrate women. That's something we do every year and something we will continue to do. It's something I love to do for personal reasons because whenever there's women on the show, especially these leading ladies that we have, there's always something to learn and things for me to take away. I know whoever is watching is going to benefit similarly. It's a great opportunity to showcase amazing women and all of the things that they've done. It was great the first time we did it, and ever since it's been something I really love to do.
GH: You're also spotlighting "everyday people," and that's unique to your show.
HC: I do the things that I feel comfortable doing. It's not like we sit around and try to think about things that make us different; we actually sit around and think about things that I like to do. I'm surrounded by great women, so we like to do that on the show. I like talking to everyday people, regular folks who get up and go to work or whatever. I just like people and I like talking to them and celebrating them, and there's always fun, interesting things to talk about. Those are the things that feel very comfortable to me.
GH: Talk to me about some of the iconic figures who have influenced your life.
HC: My biggest influences were my parents for sure. My dad, who is 91, and my mother who died when I was 13. I had a lot less time with my mom, but both of them were major influences on me. My sister who's a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, she's a brilliant woman and a big hero of mine. My manager, Annmarie, who's a Jamaican woman who ended up getting her law degree from Harvard who's just an incredible person, I've been with her for over 30 years. My wife, who's the person I'm closest to, is a huge influence on me. I have a lot. I've been really blessed to have been surrounded by really great people.
GH: Harry has been nominated for a whopping 5 Emmy Awards. Were you expecting that kind of response?
HC: I've learned over the years to not really expect anything because you never know what's going to happen. Just do the best work you can do. When we got those five Emmy nominations, we were so thrilled and honored and we just got back to work and tried to make Season Two better. You can't - in this business especially - predict anything. All you can do is do your best and hopefully people like it.
GH: Well, people do like it. You can see the reactions of your audience and the people you interact with - your show has impacted people in a big way.
HC: It's unbelievable. I hear stories all the time. Every day, people will either come up to me, or I'll hear things via social media. Pople say, 'we need this show' or 'this show has gotten me through a hard time,' and it's just thrilling and humbling all at the same time, and it makes me realize how blessed I am to have the chance to do it and how seriously I take it. We have so much fun here, but if this show can positively affect one person, I feel like I've done a good job. I'm so just so lucky to have that positive response that we've had.
GH: You're a practicing Christian -- how do your values influence the topics you decide to highlight on your show?
HC: Being a Christian is very important to me, and I'm sure that a lot of the things I grew up learning about the church have influenced me as a person, but the last thing I want to do is preach. Not everybody is Catholic, and I don't want my show to be seen through the eyes of a Christian. I want it to be seen through my eyes, which is somebody who loves everyone and somebody who feels blessed in that position, which is why I don't like to preach to people. My mother was Jewish, so there's all kinds of people out there, and what we try to do on the show is celebrate the good in everyone, to uplift everyone, to inspire people. I think those also happen to be things that Christians believe, too.
GH: You've done a lot of important charity work. Why is helping others important to you?
HC: I feel compelled to do what little I can to help people. Those are the values that were instilled in me by my parents. I know how it feels to be helped, and I think that's what we're supposed to do. It seems like the right thing to do. I like people to be happy, and when we help one another I think we make each other happy.
GH: What can viewers expect from season 2? How will it be different than season 1?
HC: In Season One we tried to see what resonated with the viewers and we learned a lot. Some things that resonated were the leading lady segment, highlighting every day people, music, laughter, inspirations - things like that. We're really centering on those things and giving people things to take away from this show, things that they can learn, things to help make their lives easier and make them feel good. We try to celebrate things that are positive and all of the things that we all have in common. We're honing in on all the things that we think give the show a special identity.
GH: In many ways, this show presents a message of unity that you don't see a lot today in entertainment.
HC: I think so. When I look out into the audience, you just don't know what people are going through. If you spend all your time saying 'I believe this, you believe that, I voted for this person, and you voted for that person' - who cares, man. We're all God's children and have things that we suffered through and that bring us joy and we're all just trying to make it. All I want this show to do is give people a respite from their day, put a smile on their face, and remind each other that love wins and that we at the Harry show like to love. That's what we like to do.