As an actor, Harry Connick Jr.'s resume ranges from rom-coms to sitcoms to horror. As a musician, he's mostly known for easy, breezy jazz — but these days, he's embracing his spiritual side.
After his True Love Tour was canceled last March, Connick retreated to his home studio, where he recorded Alone With My Faith, an album of gospel classics and new, profoundly personal songs.
"There were times when I was very down and didn't feel like making music. But I was able to collect my thoughts and channel them through some of these songs," says the award-winning musician, who played all the instruments, sang all the background vocals and did all the engineering — a labor of love that served as therapy amid the pandemic.
The New Orleans native, 53, who lives in Connecticut with his wife of 27 years, former Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre, 57, talks about faith, family and the healing power of music.
Can you tell us how Alone With My Faith came about?
These songs are sort of real-time reflections on what I was feeling over the last year during this pandemic. I lost a lot of friends and family members, and when you can't go to funerals and you can't have closure, that's very, very hard. But it was an opportunity to record in a way that I had never done in that I was completely alone.
So it was just you in the studio?
I was the only singer, musician [and] technician. So I got to spend a lot of time all by myself singing songs that helped me get through this period, which was a unique experience.
Did you intend to make a religious album?
I have a pretty deep connection with gospel music, and I've performed a lot of these songs on stage. But this is not the gospel album I could've predicted because there are also songs that I wrote as a result of the circumstances I found myself in that I think transcend Christianity. This album is about a spectrum of faith that I experience, from incredible joy and confidence to, you know, why am I hurting like this? I think we all feel those things, no matter what faith we subscribe to.
Your dad was Catholic. Has religion always been a big part of your life?
Long story short, my mother did not want me to be baptized as a baby because she wanted me to decide about religion for myself. But after she died [she died of ovarian cancer, when Connick was 13], I felt I needed to be a part of something that gave me comfort, and I decided I wanted to be Catholic. So that was when my faith was probably at its strongest, and I really clung on to it in my teens.
And you were dealt another devastating blow when Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
It was terrifying. When the cell phone rang, she said, "I have it." I mean, the thought of losing Jill, I don't know how I would get through that. So thank God she made it through and is now almost eight years in remission.
Was it love at first sight for you two?
For me, it was. I was taken aback by her physical beauty, but when I got a chance to talk to her, I was like, "Oh, man, this girl is really cool." And then I found out years later that the day we met, she called her mother and said, "Mom, I met the guy I'm going to marry." She didn't let me on to that at all. If she had, I would've relaxed a little bit. I tried so hard to win her over.
You've been solid for 27 years.
Being married to this incredible woman and having three wonderful daughters [Georgia 25, Sarah, 23, and Charlotte, 18], I do think about my particular circumstance of not having my mother in my life after I was 13. I'm not sure how God works, but being surrounded by these amazing women whom I have so much love and respect for seems like a blessing to me.