Harry Connick Jr.: A Role Model Dad

Grammy-winning musician Harry Connick Jr. and his 13-year-old daughter, Kate, have joined forces with American Girl to launch Kate's first solo singing effort, “A Lot Like Me.” The song is inspired by American Girl's two new characters who, like Connick, hail from New Orleans. All proceeds from downloads will go to a musical relief effort in the Big Easy. Below, in the edited version of our interview with Connick and his daughter, learn what it's like for the duo to work together for a good cause.

Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
harry connick jr. and his daughter kate make beautiful music together image
Photograph: Jill Connick.

More: So you just ignore it all?
HC: I have to take out the trash late at night, so no, I don’t play that. Are you kidding? You can’t believe the stuff people say. There is an old expression, You are never as good as they say you are. There are people out there who think I am the most talented musician, and others who think I have no talent whatsoever. I think I am somewhere in the middle. I have a lot of people around me—mainly my wife—who make sure I stay that way.

More: Are you a tough critic on yourself? 

HC: Oh yeah. I have heard Kate say, “Dad, you suck” and Kate has heard me say, “Wow, I suck, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to play the piano, or act.” I got to act with people like Hilary Swank and Glenn Close. I even had Glenn Close say to me, “What am I doing here? I don’t know how to act”—and that was Glenn Close!

More: I find that hard to believe. 
HC: That is part of being an artist.

More: I liked you as Debra Messing’s husband on “Will & Grace.”
HC: That was a fast-paced show. My comedy is much slower and my whole rhythm is slower.

More: You have also been a huge philanthropist, especially for the folks down in New Orleans, where you are from.
HC: That is going great. We have our Musicians’ Village going, and we have had so many other avenues leading toward more volunteer work and contributions. That is another reason we got involved with American Girl. We are also getting ready to open on August 25, 2011, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans, where Kate will sing this song.

More: Hurricane Katrina must have broken your heart?
HC: It was one of the worst times in my life. My reality, basically everything, was taken away from me and washed away. On the flip side, in some ways New Orleans is a lot better now.

More: Speaking of tragedy, your mom died of ovarian cancer.
HC: That was the number one tragedy in my life and still affects me to this day. The interesting thing is, even though my mom died 30 years ago, I still see her every day in my kids. Although my children never met her, I can still see glimpses of her in their looks, personalities and their overall being. I know she is living through my kids, and that makes me so happy.

More: Are you worried your daughters could get the disease, since it runs in the family?
HC: The good news is my sister was just screened to see if it was a sporadic occurrence or genetic. Thank God, it was a sporadic occurrence with my mother. There is no genetic possibility my children can get ovarian cancer. I felt blessed to hear that news.

More: Now that you and Kate have made this hit, any chance you will collaborate on an album?
HC: It has crossed my mind. I don’t know if she is going to hire me. I am taking her out to lunch and buying her a nice dress. I am basically doing everything possible so she won’t forget her old man.

KC: Don’t worry, Dad, that will never happen.

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First Published August 16, 2011

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