Harry Connick Jr. is one of those rare entertainers who truly has done it all. Among his many talents, he's won Emmy and Grammy awards, starred in countless films and TV shows, performed on Broadway, and hosted American Idol - not to mention he's sold over 28 million albums worldwide.
Needless to say, the New Orleans-born-and-bred pianist, singer and actor, who now serves as the host and executive producer of the the daytime talk show "Harry", has solidified himself as one of America's most lasting and versatile entertainers.
Despite his immense success, Connick maintains a humble and engaging demeanor that calls to mind Philippians 2:3 - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves."
"You know how, when you watch a show and the performer bows at the end? I don't ever think of that bow as being for me," he told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "I always think of it as me bowing to the people coming to see me. It's a real sign of respect I show to the audience. When you see these folks one-on-one, we're all the same. The only difference between me and them is, I play the piano and I love to talk to people and I'm an entertainer."
Connick's striking humility and dedication to his philanthropic work is rooted in his devout Catholic faith - something he's quick to point to as influencing every aspect of his life.
"No matter what the artistic decision I make is, it coincides with my faith," he said. "It's constantly on my mind. It's a strange thing, because I don't think about my faith when I make decisions; it's not like one informs the other. I do things that make me comfortable, I do things that fulfill me and allow me to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience. I think all of that stuff comes from the same place. It's not like I'm saying, ‘I believe ABC, so I'm going to make these decisions,' because as an artist, I would find that very limiting. But, I've never done something artistically that contradicts my faith."
Connick's devotion to his faith doesn't just influence his professional life; it also affects how he and his wife of 27 years, model Jill Goodacre, raise their three daughters, Georgia, 20, Kate, 19, and Charlotte, 14.
"I have four women in my house, so there's a lot to learn and there's a lot of thought and strong identity and all the things that we hope for with our daughters," he told GH. "You raise them hoping they'll become these great decision makers with strong perspectives, and that's exactly what we have. It makes for interesting conversation and a lot of opportunities to grow. "
Raised in an interfaith household - his mother was Jewish; his father Catholic - Connick says his parents faith helped shape his his values at a young age.
"No matter what you believe politically or what your religion is, I think most of us share the same basic values," he explained. "We want to make it, we want to provide a home and love for our children, we respect our elders - these are basic values that I grew up with, and most of us did. So, the fact that my mother wasn't a Christian had no bearing on the value system, which is mine as well and my dad's, too."
Though he practices Catholicism today, as a teen, Connick studied at Jesuit High School in New Orleans and still possesses a "deep respect and admiration" for the order.
"I think the Jesuits are an amazing order. They're so thoughtful and highly educated and it's so cool to have one as the pope now," he said. "When I read about Ignatius Loyola, I think a lot about what he spoke about, which was this dichotomy of having aspirational goals and trying to do big things that can help a lot of people, while at the same time paying attention to the little everyday mundane things and trying to keep those things in balance and not losing sight of one or the other. That's a very basic Jesuit philosophy that I think about to this day."
While Connick maintains a humble outlook on his achievements, he's well aware of his platform and the immense responsibility that comes along with it. That's why he views his latest project, "Harry", not as a talk show, but as an opportunity to encourage, uplift, and entertain others.
He said, "When I go out there every day to do the show and meet people in the audience, they hold my hand and shake my hand, and you can see it in their eyes - almost like there's a gratitude there. It's an amazing and humbling feeling. What a great honor it is to be able to do something that people are responding so favorably to.
"If anybody is going to pray for me, I would hope that they pray I can continue to try to make a show that gives viewers a rest from their day," 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."