By Doug Levine
Lots of famous musicians have walked through our doors here at VOA. Everyone from Quincy Jones and Chubby Checker to Kenny Rogers and Aretha Franklin, have come to the studio to chat, to perform or both. One of our most memorable guests was singer, pianist and bandleader Harry Connick, Jr., who visited back in the ’90s.
Harry was in town promoting a new CD and he stopped by to talk about it. By then, Harry had shed his child prodigy image (playing jazz piano standards and classical pieces at age 10 in his native New Orleans) to become an international film, television and recording star. We were all kind of surprised by how mellow Harry was that day. No star treatment necessary. He was reserved, down-to-earth, even a little self-conscious, but totally possessed with that easy-going Southern charm. At one point, before the interview, he politely excused himself to gather his thoughts in an empty office. His publicist explained that this was simply one of Harry’s rituals, a little private time before revving up to go on stage, in front of a camera, or before a microphone to talk about music.
Harry Connick, Jr. never let fame and fortune go to his head. He remains loyal to his hometown and works hard to preserve its rich musical heritage. In 1993, he co-founded one of New Orlean’s most popular Mardi Gras parade”krewes,” The Krewe of Orpheus. Harry pays tribute to the Krewe’s 20th anniversary with his new album “Smokey Mary,” named after their fantastic, train-engine parade float pictured in the video below. The album marks Harry’s return to funk and his signature New Orleans rhythm and blues on tracks like “Dang You Pretty.”