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: I love that your daughter Kate is following in your footsteps.
Harry Connick Jr.: It is pretty amazing for me. You can’t plan these things out. I have three daughters and each one of them is unique. The fact that Kate has an interest in what I do is such a thrill.

More: Do you feel you can bond with your daughter on a whole new level because of her attraction to music?
HC: Oh yeah. Now we have even more to talk about. We have a lot in common anyway.
Kate Connick: I have to agree.

More: Kate, when did you develop a passion for music?
KC: My dad introduced me to the music world and because of that I got so into it. I started loving it when I was young girl.

More: Kate, is your father a stage dad?
KC: Nah, he is pretty cool about it.

More: Harry, what have you taught Kate about the downside of the business?
HC: I have been lucky so I don’t have a lot of downside stuff. The harder you work, the harder you practice, the more time you spend developing your craft, the greater you can be. Look, we all have bad days and things don’t go the way you want, but at least you can go to sleep knowing that you worked hard for what you want.

More: So no advice?
HC: It’s not like I am saying, “Kate, watch out for this and watch out for that.” Kate is a very centered girl, and it is all about her working hard at what she does. I also want her to have a good time and be the best she can be.

More: You are both teaming up with American Girl. 
KC: Although Dad wrote the music and the lyrics, I put in my input too.
HC: Yeah, she had a lot of input. After we made the demo and I was happy with it, Kate made comments like, “I don’t like this and I don’t like that.”

More: Was Kate right on the money with her suggestions?
HC: Yeah. She made me aware of things I didn’t know.

More: Kate, were there any women who influenced your career?
KC: My family and Ella Fitzgerald. She helped me because I used to sing her songs for a lot of fun, so I really looked up to her.

More: What’s it like to live with four women?
HC: Absolute hell. Get me out!!

More: I will send in the reserves.
HC: I am kidding. It is the best. You know, I wouldn’t even know what to do with a boy. My manager is a woman, my publicist is a woman, my dogs are females and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

More: Most Hollywood marriages last a minute. How have you and your wife [model Jill Goodacre] defied the odds? 
HC: Marriages fail in and out of Hollywood and they also succeed in and out of Hollywood. My wife and I are very serious about the vows of marriage. Sometimes things don’t work out for people, but we have been lucky.

More: What’s your secret?
HC: She is my best friend and I love her. She is the only wife I will ever have. I hope she feels the same way. There are so many intimate variables—people have to discover what works for them. We know what works for us.

More: Do you feel the pressure because you and your wife are such public figures?
HC: I think if you play into that it can be, but we don’t play into it. We don’t really go to a lot of Hollywood events. I mean, yes, we get dressed up and go to an award show or a party, but we don’t live that life on a regular basis. My wife and I also don’t read that stuff, and, to be honest, don’t play that game.

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 Mon, 2011-08-15 23:54

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