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Harry Connick Jr.

He’s a little bit Hollywood, a very big music star, and a whole lot of holiday spirit. Like Santa and his reindeers, Harry Connick Jr. and his Big Band wing into town December 9th for a gala Holiday concert at the Benedum. (His new Columbia album,“Harry for the Holidays,” coincides with an NBC Special airing December 23rd). It’s hard to pin the young, multi-talented, singer/actor/pianist/composer/arranger to one style. He’s recorded four multi-platinum, three platinum and three gold albums, had three Grammy awards, and been nominated for an Emmy, Cable Ace, Golden Globe, Tony and an Oscar. So, I decided to ask how it all began:

What about growing up in New Orleans made you so passionate about music?

"It’s such a center for different types of music, and growing up there I was exposed to so many great musicians and their styles, that you can’t help but be influenced by it. (He studied with two jazz greats: James Booker and Ellis Marsalis) I also used to listen to a lot of Louis Armstrong. There are styles I haven’t yet explored, but I think for me, it’s best to stick with what I know, which is fairly broad."

Did your children influence your musical choices for this holiday album?

"Not really, (he laughs), or the album would be all ‘Frosty’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’. They heard it when I was doing it, and let me know what they thought, but it was pretty much me picking or writing the songs, getting together the best record I could."

Are the new songs about your own childhood?,/>

"Sort of. ‘The Happy Elf’ is a typical secular happy feel-good song about how cool it would be to work in Santa’s workshop, and ‘I’m Gonna Be the First One (Up on Christmas Morning)’is based on how I felt as a kid when I was the first one up and had to wait for everyone else to open presents. But, ‘Nothing New for the New Year,’ is a sad song about a guy whose heart is broken every NewYear when he realizes he doesn’t have anybody to call his own, and ‘I Come With Love’ is based on Christ and how I wondered about his understanding of who he was."

Do you make your children wait for you to open presents?

"Of Course. My wife I have three kids, and they have to wait for us to get up, just like we did."